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Displaying items by tag: Seven Trumpets

1 And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:

2 And he had in his hand a little scroll open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,

3 And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.

 

Part 1 - Revelation 10:1-3

 

*** Background ***: As we mentioned before, the seventh trumpet doesn't come right after the sixth one. There is a pause between the sixth and seventh trumpets, just like the one we saw between the sixth and seventh seals. Even though each of the trumpets doesn't necessarily correspond exactly to the time frame of each of the seals, they start and finish in the same place, covering the period between Jesus' resurrection and His Second Coming. In the study of the seals, this interlude answered the question raised at the end of the sixth seal: "For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" (Revelation 6:17). The answer is clear: God's army will remain and become a great multitude standing victorious before the throne of God. The interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpets expands that answer even more. Throughout the blowing of the trumpets, the descriptions give us the well-defined picture of a battle between God's army and the enemy army. God's army is His church, and they fight this battle not by the use of force, but they use a mighty spiritual weapon: God's Truth. The interlude here explains the role of God's army and how they spread the Gospel in the last days.

*** Another mighty angel ***: The angel described in Revelation 10:1 reminds us of the one in Revelation 5:2: "And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the scroll, and to loose the seals thereof?". In both verses, the angel is mentioned in association with a scroll, and they are both described as being 'strong' or 'mighty'. Revelation 10:1 starts with the word "another", which leads us to believe that this strong angel is not one of the seven blowing the trumpets.

Where the angel comes from: There is no doubt that this angel comes from heaven (Revelation 10:1). The Greek word for angel is aggelou, and it means messenger. This strong messenger has an important information sent by God.

His appearance:

* The angel is clothed with a cloud. As we've studied before, the term cloud is often associated with the presence of God (see study #6). Now it becomes even more clear that the message the angel is carrying is so important that it is surrounded by the presence of God.

* There was a rainbow over his head. The rainbow reminds us of the description of the throne of God, in Revelation 4:3. Once again, we see the presence of the Father in this description. The angel seems to not only come from Heaven, but also from the very presence of God. Even his face was shining like the sun.

* The angel's feet were like pillars of fire, just like the description of Jesus' legs in Revelation 1:15. Now we not only have a reference to the Father but also to the Son. The messenger holding the little scroll resembles these two members of the Trinity.

On his hand: The angel had in his hand a little scroll. This scroll is different than the one in Revelation 5, because of two things: it is little, and it is open. This doesn't mean these two scrolls aren't related. If they are related, the little scroll of Revelation 10 could be just a portion or section of the one in Revelation 5. We will talk more about the little scroll in the next study.

Where he was standing: While holding the little scroll, the mighty angel had one foot on the sea and the other on the earth. The terms 'earth and sea' remind us of three things.

* Creation: "And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good." (Genesis 1:9,10). The dry land (Earth) and the portion covered with water (Seas) referred to the entirety of the planet.

* Fourth Commandment: "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labor, and do all your work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day: therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it."(Exodus 20:8-11). God created "heaven and earth, the sea, and everything that is in them". The expression here is also a reference to the entire planet.

* The beast that comes out of the sea and the one that comes out of the land: "And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy." (Revelation 13:1). "And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon." (Revelation 13:11). The beasts, which represent a political-religious power, have a global influence.

In all three instances, the concept involving the Earth and the Sea refer to their worldwide reach. The image of the angel standing in that way emphasizes the global implications of the message contained in the scroll.

His Voice: The angel cried out with a loud voice. His voice was not only loud, it was like the roar of a lion. The angel cry prompted seven thunders to utter their voices (Revelation 10:3). The lion roar is used as a symbol for the sound of the angel's voice ("as when a lion roars"). It was not a sound to be dismissed.

*** Is the strong angel Jesus? ***: The strong angel has qualities that resemble both Father and Son. The message he is bringing is clearly one sent from Heaven. He is carrying an open book. The text does not say he opened that himself. It seems that the book was open in Heaven before the angel was sent. Let's go back to the beginning of Revelation, and review the sequence of how the message was going to be given to John: "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and revealed it by his angel unto his servant John" (Revelation 1:1). God gave the message to Jesus, Jesus gave it to the angel, and the angel gave it to John. The sequence in Revelation 10:1-7 seems to be the same. And we have been studying this sequence over the past several lessons, leading to this point: God gave a sealed scroll to Jesus, Jesus started to open the seals of the scroll, then Jesus gave a portion of the scroll that had been opened to the angel, and the angel is transmitting the message to John. Is then the angel Jesus? Not exactly, but in a way, yes. In modern terms, we could understand the function of this angel by comparing the flow of information getting to John to the way we often communicate today. We often send messages to each other in electronic form. We get the message, but what we see is not the sender. What we see are letters on a screen, or we hear a recording on a machine. The actual sender is not the phone or computer. We consider the message as if we had received it directly from that other person. In a similar way, the strong angel of Revelation 10:1 is the carrier of a message coming from God, through Jesus. In a broader sense, it is as if Jesus was there Himself, giving John the message.

*** Overview ***: Revelation 10 and Revelation 11:1-14 cover the interlude between the sixth and the seventh trumpets. This section explains the role and activities of God's end-time faithful people. The information gets to John through a strong angel, sent by God. The striking appearance of the angel tells John that the message has global implications, and is of extreme importance. At this point, John still doesn't know what the scroll actually says. He spent a few verses describing what the messenger looked like, to make it clear to the reader that the angel is bringing with him divine information. The first verses of chapter 10 prepare the foundation for the verses to come. After seeing the strong angel and hearing his cry, John is ready to listen to what God has to say.

18 And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward unto your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them who destroy the earth.

19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his covenant: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.

 

Part 2 - Revelation 11:18-19

 

*** The wrath and the judgment ***: Revelation 11:18 starts with contrasting points about the people on God's side and those on the enemy's side. The verse says: "And the nations were angry". Their anger came because of what the angel in Revelation 11:15 announced: "The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever." They oppose the people of God and His domain. God's response to their anger is the outpouring of His wrath. The word 'anger' was translated from the Greek ōrgisthēsan. The word 'wrath' was translated from the Greek orgē, and is the root word for ōrgisthēsan. In essence, God responds to the wrath of the nations with His own wrath . The wrath of the nations is challenging the authority of God but the wrath of the nations is no match for the wrath of God. The wrath of God can eliminate sin at the root. In Psalm 2:1-2, we see a similar scenario, where the nations were enraged against God and His anointed one. God responds by pouring His wrath (Psalm 2:5). In Revelation 11:18, we see that the judgment follows the wrath. For the faithful people, judgment is good news: they will be rewarded. For the wicked, it means destruction. Here is a diagram of Revelation 11:18:

 

The nations were angry
God's wrath is poured
Judgement starts to be executed
Wicked Faithful
The destroyers of the earth are to be destroyed The faithful servants (prophets, saints and all who fear God) are to be rewarded

 

*** Destroying those who destroy the Earth ***: In order for us to understand what this expression means, we must look at the Greek word translated as "to destroy", diaphtheiró, which means: 'to destroy utterly, to spoil, corrupt'. We see this same concept in the story of the flood. The flood account helps us understand what kind of destruction Revelation 11:18 is talking about. Is it the destruction of the environment? Or is it the destruction in a spiritual sense? As we read Genesis 6:11-13, lets keep in mind the idea of destruction in its meabing 'to corrupt': "The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth." (Genesis 6:11-13). In this description, God will send the flood because of the corruption going on. The text equates corruption with violence. God sent the flood because of the iniquity of the people. Their iniquity filled the Earth. The environmental destruction of the planet is only one of the consequences of the spiritual disease afflicting those who dwell on the Earth. The problem is actual a spiritual one. The people spreading false teachings and encouraging behaviors that go against God's commandments are the ones who are destroying the Earth. Revelation 19:2 gives emphasis to the spiritual nature of this destruction caused by the wicked because it talks about how a political-religious system (symbolically represented as a harlot or as Babylon) corrupted the Earth with her fornication. The term fornication means the betrayal of God's teachings by mixing in false doctrines, which are not based solely on Scripture. This woman (representing the political-religious power) is destroying the Earth "for her sins have reached unto heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities." (Revelation 18:5).

*** The temple of God was opened, showing the Ark of the covenant ***: The vision ends with a clear view of the Temple of God, all the way to the Most Holy Place, where the Ark of the covenant is. His temple is completely open. In the Old Testament, the Ark of the covenant was a golden box which contained the Ten Commandments, a bowl of mana, and Aaron's flowering staff (Exodus 16:33,34; Exodus 25:16, Numbers 17:10, see also Hebrews 9:4). Also, the Book of the Covenant was stored by the Ark (Deuteronomy 31:26). The Ark represented the presence of God (Exodus 30:6), and that is why we see "lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail" mentioned right after the description of the visible Ark (Revelation 11:19). Lightnings, voices, thunderings, earthquake and great hail are manifestations frequently used in the Bible to describe the presence of God (Revelation 4:5; Revelation 8:5; Revelation 16:18; Exodus 19:16-19; Exodus 20:18; Deuteronomy 5:22-23). The contents inside and near the Ark represent the agreement God has with His people. By displaying the Ark, God is once again showing His end-time faithful church that He has not forgotten about them and that He is present with them always. He will keep His promise to destroy the enemy.

*** Prophetic Application and Overview ***: The blowing of the seventh trumpet brigs us to the time of the very end. The kingdom of the Father has become also the kingdom of Jesus. It marks the beginning of His eternal reign. The nations of the Earth will be enraged against God and His people, but God will come to their defense and destroy those who filled the Earth with iniquity. With the Second Coming, Jesus will define the sentence of the wicked, and will reward those who filled the Earth with His Truth. The Bible says that Jesus will bring His reward when He comes again: "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." (Revelation 22:12, emphasis supplied). His reward is eternal life. That reward only comes at the end, when He comes. It does not come before His Second Coming, it doesn't come in the form of a secret rapture, it doesn't come when a person dies - it only comes when He comes! We must be prepared for that day. And the way to prepare and to be saved is to believe in the One God has sent, to accept His sacrifice, to repent from our iniquity, and to practice God's truth (John 3:16-21).

15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever.

16 And the four and twenty elders, who sat before God on their thrones, fell upon their faces, and worshiped God,

17 Saying, We give you thanks, O Lord God Almighty, who is, and was, and is to come; because you have taken to you your great power, and have reigned.

 

Part 1 - Revelation 11:15-17

 

*** Background ***: After the sixth trumpet, we see an interlude, just like the one between the sixth and the seventh seals. We will study the interlude between the final trumpets in the following lessons. For now, let's continue with the last trumpet and see what happened at the sound of the third and final woe.

In Revelation 10:5-7, we see that the angel makes an important announcement. The end will only come when the last trumpet sounds. When that happens, the "mystery of God" will be fully disclosed. God has been revealing His mystery through His prophets throughout time. A piece of His mystery is revealed with the preaching of the Gospel to the World. God's army will finish the proclamation of the Gospel at the sound of the last trumpet: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." (Mathew 24:14).

*** The announcement ***: When the seventh angel sounds the trumpet, Heavenly beings respond by making a loud statement. The "mystery of God" is complete, and Heaven announces with "great voices": "[...] The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever." (Revelation 11:15). The last time we saw the Heavenly chorus is saying something in a loud voice, they were praising Jesus (Revelation 5:12). In both instances, the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped God after making a loud statement.

Revelation 5:12,14 Revelation 11:15,16
"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing." "The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever."
"And the four living creatures said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshiped him that lives forever and ever." "And the four and twenty elders, who sat before God on their thrones, fell upon their faces, and worshiped God"

The scene John describes immediately after the sounding of the trumpet takes place in Heaven. This is different than the previous trumpets, where the scenes happen on Earth. The event following the sounding of the trumpet triggers a special worship service in Heaven.

*** The kingdom of this world ***: When God finished the creation of our planet, He gave to Adam and Eve the rulership of this new kingdom (Genesis 1:26-30). When they sinned, humans lost the dominion over the Earth, and handed it to the one they listened to: Satan. The enemy became the "prince of this world", as Jesus referred to him sometimes (John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11). Jesus had to provide a way to take back the rulership of the World in order to free people from slavery. Under Satan's dominion, people are kept tied up to sin. When they believe in the sacrifice Jesus made for them, they are freed from sin, and no longer belong to the enemy. Jesus paid the price to acquire the "kingdom of this world". By believing in Satan's lies, we lost our freedom. By believing in Jesus' Truth, we will gain it back.

*** The kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ ***: The last trumpet announces that the kingdom of this world is under new management. It has become "the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ" (Revelation 11:15). The meaning of the word "Christ" is very special. Christ is not Jesus' last name. 'Christ' is a title. The word comes from the Greek Christos, meaning 'the anointed'. Christos is the direct equivalent of the Hebrew name Messiah, which means 'anointed one'. The king of Israel was often referred as the 'anointed' (Psalm 2:2;  1 Samuel 24:6;  2 Samuel 3:39;  2 Samuel 22:51). The terms 'anointed' and 'kingship' are related when it comes to ruling over God's chosen people. Jesus was the One whom the Father had chosen to sit on the throne with Him and rule the Universe together. The kingdom of the Earth had become the kingdom of the Father and of the Son. This kingdom will last forever, just as the prophecy we read in Daniel 2:44 said: "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever."

*** The twenty-four elders worshiping ***: Once all recognize that the perfect kingdom of the Lord and of His Christ will last forever, the twenty-four elders fall down on their faces to worship God and give Him thanks for what He has done. They address God as "Lord God Almighty" (Revelation 11:17). What they say next differs slightly depending on which manuscript your Bible version is based on. The versions based on the Textus Receptus read "who is, and was, and is to come". The versions based on Sinaitic manuscripts read: "who is, and was", and omit the "is to come". The Greek expression for "is to come" is erchomenos, and was seen in Revelation 1:4, referring to the Father (please see study #5). We also see it in Revelation 1:8, in a very similar statement to the one in Revelation 11:17: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, says the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." (revelation 1:8). Either way, this is a clear reference to God. The twenty-four elders identify Him as the one in charge. Some translations use the expression "have reigned", for the Greek word ebasileusas. This Greek word actually translates more accurately as "begun to reign". When we take all these considerations into account, we understand that the special worship service is a celebratory one, marking the beginning of the Almighty Lord's eternal reign.

*** Overview ***: The seventh trumpet is received with great joy in Heaven. Heavenly beings worship God with a loud voice and are thankful for the things God has done for them. The Lord Almighty is the supreme ruler of the Universe. His Truth has spread throughout the whole Earth. Everyone had a chance to make their choice. The "mystery of God" has been disclosed to humanity. With the Second Coming of Jesus, the kingdom of this World becomes the kingdom of the Father and the Son, and together, as one, they begin their everlasting reign. In chapter 5, when Jesus sat on the right side of the Father, they were reigning undisputedly over the rest of Universe but the Earth still had people being influenced by the arguments of the accuser. God was still giving a chance to those who dwell on Earth to change their minds, repent, and turn to Him. With the sounding of the seventh trumpet, there is no longer time to change sides. When that moment comes, those who have listened to what the Spirit had been saying all along - those who remain faithful to the end, will be filled with overwhelming joy and thankfulness because the time has come for God's reign to start, in His great power.

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.

 

Part 2 - Revelation 9:16-18

 

*** John heard a number and saw the vision ***: Once again, John hears a number. He had previously heard the number of God’s army, in Revelation 7:4: 144,000. Please see the study #47 for details on the 144,000. In Revelation 9:16, he hears the number of the enemy army: two hundred million. The original expression was “two myriads of myriads”, or twenty thousand times ten thousand. The same idea is seen in Psalm 68:17: “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands upon thousands; The Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the sanctuary.” (ASV). Now we can picture both sides of the battle. They are prepared to engage in the world’s final battle.

 

God’s army: Enemy army:
- 144,000 (Revelation 7:4) - 200,000,000 (Revelation 9:16)
- Preaches the truth (Revelation 14:12; Revelation 14:5) - Preaches false teachings (Revelation 9:18-19 [kills and hurts with what comes out the mouth]; Revelation 12:9;  Revelation 16:13)
- Worships God (Revelation 14:3) - Worships the dragon, his beast, the image of the beast, demons and idols (Revelation 13:4,8,15; Revelation 9:20)
- They have the seal of God (Revelation 7:3) - They have the mark of the beast (Revelation 14:9-19)

 

*** The horses ***: The horses in this vision were very similar to the battle horses described in the fifth trumpet. John started verse 17 mentioning the horses, then briefly mentioned the horsemen on the horses. After that, he turned his attention back to the horses and went on to give us more details about them. The horse from the fifth trumpet and the one from the sixth have three main things in common:

 

Fifth trumpet horses and horsemen: Sixth trumpet horses and horsemen:
- Breastplates (Revelation 9:9) - Breastplates (Revelation 9:17)
- Their power is in their tail (Revelation 9:10) - Their power is in their tail (Revelation 9:19)
- Teeth like lion (Revelation 9:8) - Heads like the lion’s head (Revelation 9:17)

 

In the fifth trumpet (see studies #57-60), the horse-like locusts come out of the pit (Revelation 9:2-3), while in the sixth trumpet they come out of the enemy border: the Euphrates River (Revelation 9:14). We saw in previous studies that the “bottomless pit” and the “Euphrates river” are both used symbolically. In the fifth trumpet, the demonic forces come out of confinement to initiate a terrible attack on the people who have not chosen to follow God. In the sixth trumpet, they are already doing their killing. The army of horses from the fifth and the sixth trumpets seem to be the same one but pictured in a different moment in time.

*** Fire, smoke and brimstone ***: Fire, smoke, and brimstone (or sulfur) are always associated with judgment falling over the rebellious people. The first example that comes to mind is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24,28; Luke 17:29). We see this combination of elements in other parts of the Bible as well, and they are used to punish the evildoers (Psalm 11:6; Isaiah 34:9-10; Ezekiel 38:22). The breastplates in the fifth trumpet were made of iron, while here in the sixth trumpet they are made of fire, jacinth, and brimstone. The material of the breastplate gives emphasis to the symbolic nature of the scene and seem to parallel the weapons that come out of the horses' mouths: fire, smoke, and brimstone (Revelation 9:18). The text suggests that the breastplates and the destruction they inflict on people are made of the same material. What protects and covers the enemy’s deceiving philosophies is also what kills people. It is interesting to note that these three components, fire, smoke, and brimstone, are also found in the lake of fire, where the false prophet, the beast, grave and death, the evil angels, and Satan himself will be destroyed (Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10; Revelation 21:8). They will ultimately be consumed by the very same thing they use to spiritually torment and kill people (Revelation 9:17,18). The enemy army goes out to kill one-third of mankind (see study #52 for a detailed explanation about the term ‘one-third’). Their weapons are the lies that come out of their mouth. This gives us a whole new level to what Jesus said to His disciples: “Not that which goes into the mouth defiles a man; but that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man. But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:11,18,19).

*** Overview ***: In the vision talking about the Seals, John described God’s army: they were prepared with the Truth of God and sealed with God’s name on their foreheads. The enemy army described in Revelation 9:16 is numerically a much larger group: 200 million. John did not spend much time stressing the importance of this big number. He spent no time at all discussing that difference. The main idea is not to establish a numerical comparison. What these armies do and what they stand for seem to be of a much greater importance. The very lies spread by the enemy army is what kill their own followers (Revelation 9:18). God wants to save people. He presents them the truth and tells them they can only truly live when they choose to remain under His Truth and His love. The enemy army wants to destroy anyone and everyone. Because God’s people are sealed and protected from their lies, only the ones following false teachings will be affected by the destruction those doctrines can inflict. Let’s not be deceived. We are fighting a spiritual war, and so we need spiritual gear to help us on the journey to Heaven:

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places. Therefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girded about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:10-17, King James 2000).

11 And they had a king over them, who is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue he has the name Apollyon.

12 One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more after these.

 

Part 4 - Revelation 9:11-12

 

*** The king of the locust/scorpion army ***: So far, we’ve learned from the message of the fifth trumpet that one of the angels sinned and was cast out of Heaven. That angel was Satan. He gained the domain of the Earth when Adam and Eve listened to the lies he was telling about God’s character. Adam and Eve decided to follow what Satan was telling them through the serpent. By doing so, the humans gave him permission to take the lead. God permitted Satan to perform his activities for some time but God also set some boundaries. Satan did not have free reign over all humans. He did not allow any satanic activity to deceive the true believers. The ones with the Seal of God are immune to Satan’s deceiving tactics. His lies, however, can afflict the nonbelievers for some time. At a certain point in history, Satan and his army of fallen angels and false prophets went out in full force to deceive the nations and torment the non-believers. The weapons used to inflict torment are powered by lies, just like the one the serpent used to torment Eve when she was standing by the forbidden tree.

Eve was a believer but the moment she stopped to entertain the serpent's accusations, doubt came to her mind. She found herself having to choose between trust in God or in her own self-importance. This is the type of torment Satan inflict on people who decide to put themselves first. Eve rejected the protection God offers to the believer, and by doing so, she made herself vulnerable to the enemy's weapons. Satan's torturing methods can reach someone who has rejected God's protection. The torment then becomes the endless quest to satisfy Self. Even today, the serpent's arguments appear to be attractive and reasonable but they are very dangerous. So much so, that Satan’s army was described in a very bizarre way, compared to horse-like locusts and as deadly as scorpions.

The lies deployed among the people are deadly. Satan’s army is working to destroy God’s prized possession: humanity. We will see in the seventh trumpet that God will pour His wrath over those “who destroy the Earth” (Revelation 11:18). Unlike a real swarm of locusts, who do not have a king (Proverbs 30:27) and destroy the earth by instinct, Satan’s swarm has a leader. Revelation 9:11 identifies this leader. He has 2 names, one in Hebrew (Abandon), and one in Greek (Apollyon). In Hebrew, the word Abandon means “destruction”. In Greek, Apollyon means “destroyer”. Satan is this destroyer king. Destruction with lasting consequences comes when people believe in and follow satanic propositions and philosophies. Jesus said: “But now you seek to kill me, a man that has told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:40,44). There is no solution for the person who refuses to accept the truth. Jesus offers a way out of the sin problem, but the person needs to choose to have their spiritual eyes and ears opened. The understanding of God’s truths brings healing to the soul from the injuries caused by Satan’s weapons (Matthew 13:15).

Satan is the mind behind the attacks on the inhabitants of the Earth. He is injecting poisonous lies, and deceiving the people. 1 Peter 5:8 says: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour”. If we left things at this point, it would seem that the situation is very grim and hopeless. We must remember that when people are truly and deeply rooted in the Word of God, Satan’s arrows cannot penetrate their hearts. The verse that comes right before the one saying that Satan is seeking to devour people, says: “Cast all your anxiety on Him [Jesus], because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7). God’s faithful people must trust Him. He is our Protector. The ones who decide to turn around and repent, God will protect them as well. We all must be willing to receive His protection.

*** One woe is past, two more to come ***: The fifth trumpet identified Satan’s organized attack to deceive people and keep them blinded towards God’s truth. After the description of the fifth trumpet, we read in Revelation 9:12 a warning very similar to the one stated in Revelation 8:13. The intensity of the mental torment went up from the third to the fourth and from the fourth to the fifth trumpets. We can now expect that the events coming up with the last two trumpets will be even more intense for those who choose not to follow God.

*** Prophetic Application ***: The fourth trumpet represented the period of apostasy that was seen during the Age of Enlightenment, from the 16th to the 18th centuries (see study #55). The fifth trumpet depicts the spiritual consequences which followed that time. One of the satanic philosophical weapons seen in this period is the transition from a frame of mind where God is the center of thought to one where man is the focus instead. People replaced God with Self. They replaced Biblical reasoning with self-centered emotions. Being involved with a particular religion, denomination, or being totally opposed to any form of belief in God is no longer the strategy Satan is using. As long as Self is under the spotlight, self-proclaimed Christian churches may go on promoting empty outbursts of emotion; encouraging behaviors during the worship service that have no purpose towards understanding God’s truth; or preaching a message solely focused on material benefits to be enjoyed here on Earth. By placing Self at the center of the stage, Satan is working to create a scenario where there is no distinction among name-only Christians, atheists, and believers of any faith. Self is the equalizer. Self is the common ground. People fueled by Self can never run with their engines full. Humans were not created to run on Self. Unless we have the right fuel on board, people will be tormented to find something else to fill the void. Satan is on the lookout for that opportunity to devour (1 Peter 5:8). The prophetic period of the fifth trumpet covers from the 18th century to our present day.

*** Overview ***: The objective of the locust army is to destroy the Earth. That is achieved by weapons that can affect people spiritually. The attack on the Truth does not happen by chance and is devised by the king of destruction, the father of lies (John 8:44), Satan himself. Demonic forces work to convince people to change what is the core of their existence. The appeal to have Self at the center is very strong. He makes it seem that this is the way to bring about unification, peace, and equality. However, a true connection cannot happen outside the parameters established by God. A stable and permanent bond can only occur when people attach themselves to the Word of God. God must be at the core. We are not called to compromise the truth in order to get along with each other. We are called to a totally new path, where we are the ones changed by God. We cannot change and adapt God to be who we want Him to be depending on individual beliefs, in the name of peace. God does not force anyone to change sides and connect to Him directly. We are not called to force others into connecting either. Satan is the one coercing people into joining together in unnatural ways. That is why he has the power to afflict these people because they are not attached to a solid core. Satan works to set in motion his means of torment, trapping people in an endless search to fill their inner void. This is what he wants them to believe: when Self is the center of life, there is no need for a Savior; if there is no savior, there is no hope; if there is no hope, life has no meaning; if life has no meaning, a meaning must be established; if a new meaning must be established, it must be one that makes Self feel good and fulfilled; if Self can’t feel good and fulfilled, then life has no real meaning, and there is no real hope because there is no Savior, and therefore, Self must be the center of life. This never-ending pendular movement desensitizes people and keeps them from breaking with the pattern. They become unable to see and hear God’s call for repentance. Matthew 13:15 says: “For this people’s heart has grown callous; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn, and I would heal them.

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7   And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.

8   And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.

9   And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.

10  And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.

 

Part 3 - Revelation 9:7-10

 

*** The shape of the locusts: After studying the first 6 verses of Revelation 9, it is clear that John is using the concept of locusts to represent satanic forces at work on the Earth. Over the past 2 lessons, we’ve learned who they are, and what they are doing. Revelation 9:7-10 gives us details on the appearance of the locusts. John uses a series of symbols to describe how frightening the swarm of locusts really is. It seems that John borrowed the general concept and language from Joel 2:4-10. It is possible that the strange description of the locusts is meant to be understood as a whole, as it portrays the terrible torment the locusts will bring about. But it is worth it to see what concepts we find in the Bible that can help us understand the nature of God’s enemy.

Locusts like battle horses: Most often than not, in the Old Testament, horses are associated with an army (1 Kings 20:25;  1 Kings 4:26; Exodus 14:23;  2 Chronicles 1:14; Jeremiah 46:4). The swarm of locusts seems to be ready for battle. The locusts have been at war for a long time since it started in Heaven (Revelation 12:7-9), before Satan fell. We can see that locusts are in a spiritual fight against those with the seal of God. Revelation 12:11 tells us that the way to overcome evil and be victorious in this war, is “by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony”. These horse-like locusts are on a mission to hurt people and torment them with lies that can affect them spiritually. This can be seen as a contrast to the horses mentioned in the Seven Seals. When we studied the seals, we read that the first horseman had a conquering mission (Revelation 6:2). Horseman and horse went out to conquer for God, as a symbol of the Truth spreading out, as the Gospel was being preached throughout the World (study #38). The locusts coming out of the pit look like horses, but they are not the same horses found on God’s side. They are on an opposing mission, to spread false information.

Heads like crowns: The Greek word for crown used here is the stephanos, which is the victory crown, not a royal crown. The Bible teaches us that we will receive the stephanos crown once Christ's victory is made clear, after He returns (2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 5:4). Also, the ones with the seal of God are seen wearing the white robe of victory only after they come out of the tribulation (Revelation 7:9). The locusts, however, have their own version of victory, different from what God says it actually is. In that sense, the locusts are deceiving the world with their impressive appearance. When talking about the tribulation, Jesus warned us about how false prophets would go to great lengths to deceive people (Matthew 24:24).

Faces like human faces: This is not the first time in the Bible when God’s enemy is described as having human features. We read in Daniel 7:8,25 about the little horn power that has “eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things” “against the most High”. The satanic entities, represented by the locusts, appear to be like humans. On the other hand, “God created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:27). When God created man, God gave him life and a spiritual nature. The human face the locusts have makes them look like they also have a spiritual value that is worth something.

Hair like women’s hair: In Bible analogies, the term woman is used as a symbol for the church, whether the woman is being portrayed as faithful or unfaithful (Jeremiah 6:2; Isaiah 51:16; Ephesians 5:25-32; see other bible references in study #20). The woman component in the description of the locusts suggests that the enemy also presents himself in a church form.

Teeth like lion’s teeth: In Joel 1:1-12, we read about how the land was destroyed by locusts. But the destroyer was not an actual swarm of locusts. It was a nation that had lion’s teeth (Joel 1:6). In the book of Psalms, David used the imagery of teeth as a symbol of how people could fall prey to the lion’s lies (Psalm 57; Psalm 58). The lion's teeth suggest that the locusts also have government powers.

Breastplates: The breastplate is a piece of the armor designed to protect the heart and other vital organs. In Ephesians 6:10-17, we read about the armor of God. We are told, in verse 14, that Christians should wear breastplates made of righteousness. God’s righteousness is what protects the heart of the believer against enemy attacks. The locusts in Revelation also have breastplates, but they are not made of a spiritual material. They appear to be made of iron. Going back to the little horn in Daniel 7, which had the features of a man, we see something very interesting. The little horn came out of the fourth beast, and it had “great iron teeth” (Daniel 7:7-8). Daniel used the imagery of beasts to represent kingdoms (Daniel 7:17). Based on the description of the lion from Joel 1:6, and Daniel 7:17, we see that the satanic activities described in Revelation 9 were, in a way, wrapped by a nation ruling here on Earth.

The sound of the wings: Once again, we see a strong similarity between the fifth trumpet and Joel 2. Joel 2:5 says: “Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devours the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.” In Joel 2:4-5, we see that the war horses run and the chariots leap on the tops of the mountains. The verse in Revelation uses the word wings. Not only we have here the concept of an army running, but also of an army flying. Revelation 9:9 gives the reader the idea of movement, speed, and loud sound, as the locusts fiercely move in the direction of the war. They seem to be charging: “as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle” (Revelation 9:9).

Tails: In lesson #58, we learned: “the prophet that teaches lies, he is the tail”, and he will be cut off from among the people of God (Isaiah 9:14,15). The poison of the scorpion is in the tail. Scorpions use their tails to inject venom in their victims. The focus of the symbolism here are the lies that are poisoning those who are not careful to protect themselves with God's truth. The military formation of these locusts tells us they are ready for battle, but their attacks on people happen on a spiritual level, through lying and deceiving. They are in the middle of a spiritual war.

*** The power to hurt for five months ***: The power of this bizarre horse and scorpion-like entity will afflict people with lies for a limited amount of time: five months. As we saw in study #58, this period reminds of some examples in the Bible, more specifically the story of Noah’s Ark (please see study #58 for a detailed explanation about the five-month period).

*** Overview ***: The army of locusts represent the demonic forces in attack formation. Their weapons are very dangerous: false teachings that can confuse people and lead them away from the true message of God. The attacks are only directed at the people who had not received God’s seal (Revelation 9:4). Those with His seal are immune to such attacks because once they know and live the Truth, they cannot believe any of the lies that are presented to them. There is still time for the people who dwell on Earth to repent and turn to God. The warning in the fifth trumpet must inform them of their vulnerability to the enemy’s attacks. It also serves the purpose to remind the ones with the seal of God about the strength they have against the enemy, through the blood of Jesus Christ.

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 who have not the seal of God in their foreheads.

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 it strikes a man.

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.

 

Part 2 - Revelation 9:4-6

 

*** The command not to hurt the green vegetation ***: Revelation 9:4 starts with a command. The locusts mentioned in Revelation 9:3, which came out of the pit, are ordered not to do what locusts do best: hurt the green and live vegetation. We saw the mention of grass, trees, and green things back in the first trumpet (Revelation 8:7 - study #52). In the first trumpet, God had allowed one-third of the vegetation to be burned up. Here, in the fifth trumpet, He is not allowing any green thing to be hurt. If there was any doubt that the trees, grass, and green things were a symbol for God’s people (Jeremiah 17:7-8), the end of Revelation 9:4 can remove it completely. In this verse, the ones without the seal of God stand in contrast to the grass, trees, and green things. The ones with the seal of God are protected during the attacks of the locusts, which we read about in the beginning of the fifth trumpet (study #57). On the other hand, the dead vegetation represents the ones without the seal of God and they can be hurt.

*** Not to be killed but tormented for five months ***: Verses 4 and 5 of Revelation 9 start in a similar way: “it was commanded” and “it was given”. These orders, stated in the passive tense, actually started in Revelation 9:3, when the locusts received scorpion powers. As we saw in study #57, God is the One who allows the enemy to show the world his own evil character. Just as in the story of Job, God places limits as to how far He will allow Satan and his angels to proceed with their demonic activities. During Satan’s first attack on Job, God set a limit. Satan could harm anything Job had, but he could not touch Job (Job 1:12). A series of calamities in Job’s life followed, particularly the loss of all of his possessions and all of his children. God was not attacking Job. Satan was. This is the case in this passage of Revelation as well. God is the One setting the boundaries, telling the locusts the sealed people of God are off limits. Beyond that, the people without God’s seal are not to be killed either, but they should feel the effects of the satanic activities for a limited time. The locusts could use their scorpion powers to torment the non-sealed people for five months. There are two interesting five-month periods mentioned in the Bible. The first one happened after Elizabeth conceived: she hid for five months. She was pregnant with John the Baptist, the man who would come and cry out in the wilderness “Make straight the way of the Lord” (John 1:23). In Elizabeth’s 6th month of pregnancy, Gabriel announced to Mary the conception of Jesus (Luke 1:24-27). The announcement of Jesus’ first coming came after a faithful woman was done being secluded for a period of five months. The other passage including a period of five months is in the story of Noah and the Flood. This event seems to be of great significance for the understanding of the five-month period in Revelation. Back then, the way that the Jewish people counted time and months, followed the lunar cycle. The months had 30 days, for a year of 360 days. Ever so often, they would have an extra month to compensate. The period of 150 days is a period of five months of 30 days each.

 

The Flood

The locust attack in the 5th trumpet

Springs of water broke from the deep, the rain poured and flooded the Earth, to harm the earth (Genesis 7:11)

Out of the bottomless pit, came locusts that would harm the earth (Revelation 9:2-4)

Noah, his family, and all the living things in the Ark were protected during the flood (Genesis 7:23)

Those who have the seal of God are safe from the locust attack (Revelation 9:4)

The pouring of the harmful waters lasted for 150 days (5 months) (Genesis 7:24; Genesis 8:3)

The torment the locusts will inflict will last for 5 months (Revelation 9:5; Revelation 9:10)

 

Just as we see in Genesis, the period of five months is mentioned twice in Revelation as well. Unlike the text in Genesis, the beginning and the end of the five-month period in Revelation is not well defined in terms of precise dates. This suggests that the specific knowledge of when the five months begin or end is not the focus. The point of the text seems to be on the fact that this is a temporary period. Like in the story of Noah, God’s faithful people in the time of the fifth trumpet will also be protected from the locust attack. After Jesus told His followers He watched Satan fall from Heaven (Luke 10:18), He gave them a special power: “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19).

*** People will want to die, but they won’t be able to ***: The torment will be so severe during the five months that those without the seal will seek death. The state of mental stress would be so deep during this time, that people would actively wish to die. The text indicates that people would voluntarily look for ways to kill themselves, to end the suffering by their own powers. They would want to take matters into their own hands. To say someone would seek death is a very strong statement. This desperate state of mind reminds us of Job. He wished he could find death and end it all at once (Job 3:21). In fact, he wished he had never been born (Job 3:11-13). But is the text in Revelation speaking literally? Are the people looking for physical death? We must think about the prophetic aspect of all the trumpets. And when we do that, we realize there was never a moment in history when people were not able to die, be killed, or take their own lives. The torment in Revelation seems to be more significant on a spiritual level. The locusts are allowed to attack only the dead and dying vegetation, the people who do not have the seal of God. The “vegetation” under attack is already spiritually infected and afflicted (3rd and 4th trumpets). This means that this torment is a deepening of a problem they already had. Jeremiah 8:3 talks about how the people who are not part of God’s family prefer to choose death rather than life. It is so common to see people making poor choices in many aspects of life that are known to be detrimental. Complete spiritual death on a global scale at that point was not within the boundaries of God’s parameters.

*** Torment of a scorpion, when it strikes a man ***: In study #57 we saw that the locusts coming out of the pit had scorpion powers (Revelation 9:3). In Revelation 9:5, we understand that the torment the locusts inflict is that of a scorpion, “when it strikes a man”. Scorpions use their tails to insert venom in their victims. Oftentimes, scorpion venom is less than deadly to adult humans, with a few exceptions. But that doesn’t mean there is no suffering for the human involved. The demonic activities represented by the locust attack seems to be aimed at poisoning people at an intensity even greater than the one seen during the poisoning of the waters with wormwood (3rd trumpet, study #54). Isaiah 9:14,15 tells us: “Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, palm branch and reed, in one day. The elder and honorable, he is the head; and the prophet that teaches lies, he is the tail.” The tail of the red dragon, Satan, deceived a third part of the angels, as well as the whole world (Revelation 12:4,9). The “torment of a scorpion, when it strikes a man”, in Revelation 9:5, happens because of its tail, which is a symbol for false teachers, stinging people with false information and guiding them to a deadly path.

*** Overview ***: When the locusts came out of the pit and moved on to attack the Earth, God limited how far they could go. The locusts represent the satanic activities that aim to further keep people from reaching the Truth. Those who have already truly accepted the Truth are immune to this attack because they seek to be in constant connection with the Lord. Those who are not connected to God still feel the need to connect to something, and they encounter the scorpion-like tail of the locusts, which aim to torment those people with false teachings and philosophies that are contrary to God’s truth. This torture will go on for some time, but it will come to an end. The period of five months serves to remind the reader that the faithful people of God will not be harmed, just as Noah was protected inside the Ark. It is important that we remember: Noah still felt the Ark move and shake with the violent storm outside. God did not keep Noah from having the experience altogether, but He kept Noah safe as he lived through the Flood. If God is the One we serve, then we do not need to be afraid. The main message is: there is no space for the venomous tail of the enemy’s lies to attach to us when we are completely surrounded by God’s truth and protected by His seal.

1  And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.

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.

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.

 

Part 1 - Revelation 9:1-3

 

*** Star fell from Heaven ***: We saw the star that fell from Heaven when we talked about the third trumpet (Revelation 8:10-11). In study #54, we saw that the star that fell from Heaven was Satan. He was known as Lucifer before he was cast out of Heaven. We read about his fall in Isaiah 14:12-21. “How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, who did weaken the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12). Based on Revelation 9:1 and Revelation 9:11, we can see that the star that fell from Heaven is also identified as the angel of the bottomless pit (or the abyss, depending on the translation). His fall happened prior to the sounding of the trumpets. In the third trumpet, the fallen star was called Wormwood, and it poisoned the original message of the Gospel (symbolized by the term ‘waters’). It mixed the truth with false teachings and gave that mix for people to drink. The poisonous waters caused the spiritual death of many.

*** The key to the bottomless pit ***: Before we talk about the key, we need to understand what that the abyss (or bottomless pit) is in the first place. The Greek expression used here is “phreatos tēs abyssou”. It means the pit of the abyss.The word abyss is also found in Genesis 1:2: “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” The Hebrew word translated as “deep” is the word ṯə-hō-wm, which also means sea and abyss. We see the word ṯə-hō-wm being used during the account of the Flood. The Bible says that the “all the fountains of the great deep [were] broken” (Genesis 7:11, see also Genesis 8:2). These are not the only instances where the word abyss is used. It was used to describe a place of emptiness and desolation (Jeremiah 4:23-30). A similar concept is found in Ezekiel 26:19, with the word void; and in Isaiah 24:21-23, with the word dungeon, referring to the prison where the rebellious hosts of Heaven and kings of the earth will be confined before their punishment.

Now, let’s talk about the key to this place. The key is the instrument that can open or close the abyss. By itself, any key is just an object. Its importance comes from knowing who has it and can use it. ‘Key’ is a symbol of authority and control. We read in the New Testament, that Jesus is the One with the power to send demonic forces to the abyss. One time, Jesus cast many demons out of one man (Luke 8:26-39). They were subject to Jesus’ command to leave that man. The power of God was, and still is, greater than the grip that fallen angels may have over people. The demons begged Jesus not to “command them to go out into the abyss” (Luke 8:31). Jesus not only had the power to order them out of the man but also to order them to go to the abyss. Jesus is the one who has the keys to the bottomless pit. Jesus is also the One with the keys to death and the graves (Revelation 1:18, please see study #10).

The word abyss is a symbol for the ability that God has to confine and restrict the evil angels while they await their judgment. It is more important that we understand this concept of the abyss as the power that God has over them, than a physical place or underground cavern where they gather. The point here is that God is in control (Jude 1:6; 2 Peter 2:4; Revelation 20:1-3). They cannot move about, unless God allows them to. Revelation 9:1-3 tell us that Satan was given permission to move out of the abyss, and initiate his work of covering the Earth with his smoke. At first, this action may sound very strange. The fact is we don’t understand all that God understands of the situation we are in. Just as when God gave Satan permission to test Job (Job 1:6-12), He is giving Satan permission to prepare his attacks on Earth. Job came out of his experience with a much stronger relationship with God and a with a more invigorated trust in the Lord. In the same way, the enemy’s attacks will not knock people off the path to Eternity if they keep their truth entirely on God, even when they don’t understand what is going on.

*** Smoke came out of the pit, and darkened the sun and the air ***: As soon as Satan was permitted to act, a series of symbols is used to tell us what happened next. The first symbol is smoke, which came out of the pit of the abyss. John describes this smoke as the one that comes out of a furnace. In the Old Testament the term “smoke of a furnace” appears in the description of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorra (Genesis 19:28), and when the Lord descended on mount Sinai, to give Moses the 10 Commandments (Exodus 19:18).The end of the verse in Revelation 9:2, we see that the smoke coming out of the pit is responsible for darkening the sun and the air. Unlike the darkness in the fourth trumpet, which was partial and affecting one-third of the celestial bodies, the darkness seen in the fifth trumpet are not measured. We have the impression that the darkness is complete. Even the air is affected. This type of darkness reminds us of the darkness described in the 9th Egyptian plague (Exodus 10:21). At this point in the verse in Revelation, we still don’t know what the smoke is all about. We only know its effect: it causes darkness on the Earth.

*** Locusts came out of the smoke ***: The fact that the darkness of Revelation 9:2 also affects the air, is not a coincidence. The reason for that becomes clear in the next verse: out of the pit of the abyss, came flying a cloud of locusts. Going back to the Egyptian plagues, we see the plague of locusts (Exodus 10:1-20), which came right before the plague of darkness that we just talked about. During the plague of the locusts, the land of Egypt was also covered with darkness (Exodus 10:15). Darkness and locusts are symbols of God’s judgments (Joel 1:1-12). The consequence of rejecting light is spiritual darkness (John 3:18-21).

*** Locusts with scorpion power ***: The locusts coming out of the pit weren’t ordinary locusts.They received power to be like scorpions. Here we have, once again, the expression “received power”. These locusts were permitted to do their locust work carrying scorpion abilities. They seem to be on a deadly mission. The nature of this scene is very symbolic. This is accentuated by the fact that these locusts behave in a manner different from what would be expected naturally. But this will be more clear in the next studies.

*** Overview ***: The bottomless pit, or abyss, is the circumstances by which the fallen angels are restricted and bound under the power of God. They are not allowed to act and obliterate humanity. God’s respect for human free will is so profound that He allows people to choose who and what they want to believe in. Sometimes, He allows for the demonic forces to act. People will have to make a choice. Do they want to believe in the contaminated waters and in the cloud of locusts and, at the same time, reject the Light of Life? Or do they want to receive Christ in their lives, and follow God’s truth? The first three verses of the fifth trumpet may seem frightening. But the main point we must take from this section, is that God is the one in control of the situation. He knows how much to limit the actions of these fallen angels that are swarming out of restriction. We must keep the story of Job in mind, and remember that if we are faithful, our salvation is guaranteed. We may not understand God’s methods. We may not even understand God but we can trust in His power and holiness. We can be assured that everything He does is with the intention to make us know He is God.

13 Then I looked, and I heard an eagle flying in midheaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!” (New American Standard Version )

 

*** An eagle flying ***: The word ‘eagle’ was translated from the Greek aetos, which means “vulture, eagle”. This word is used again in Revelation 19:17-18. Some Bible versions translated the word aetos as angel. But when we compare to other verses, we can see that the word vulture or eagle would match the judgement oracles against Israel we read about in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 28:49; Ezekiel 32:4; Ezekiel 39:17). Let's look at Hosea 8:1: “Set the trumpet to your mouth. He shall come as an eagle over the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law.” The blowing of the trumpet was going to happen because of the transgression of God’s covenant and of His Law. The apostate people would be cast out, and the vultures would be upon them (Ezekiel 32:4). This imagery reminds us of some things Jesus said. When talking about the events surrounding His Second Coming, Jesus said: “For wherever the carcass is, there will the vultures be gathered together.” (Matthew 24:28). The Greek word used in this verse is also aetos. The point is, some people will not be round up when the trumpet sound. They will be out, waiting for the vultures.

There are many examples in the Bible of times when the one carrying the sin is taken out of the scene. Adam and Eve were taken out of Eden when sin first came into the world (Genesis 3:23-24). Cain was sent out of the region after killing his brother Abel (Genesis 4:14). Jesus, in a similar way, was taken out of the city, where He was hung on the cross, carrying the sins of the world on his shoulders (John 19:16,17). On the Day of Atonement, two goats were involved in the end of the sacrificial ritual; one was to be the burned sacrifice, and the other was to be taken out of the camp, symbolically carrying away the recorded sins that had accumulated in the tabernacle during the year (Leviticus 16:21,22). It was the scapegoat. This part with the goat happened at the end of the ceremony, after the sacrifice ritual. The correspondent part in Revelation is also found in the final moments of the book. In Leviticus 16:21-22, we read that the scapegoat was to be taken out to a desolate place, outside of the camp. In the same manner, we see in Revelation 20:1-3,7-10 that Satan will be imprisoned in the abyss for one thousands years (a place of desolation, completely separate from the place where the saved will be). After some time, he will be let loose in order to receive his final sentence. Satan does not carry the sins as a symbol of the remission of the repented sinner. He carries the sin because his evil nature is revealed at the end of the history of the world. He is the embodiment of the separation from God caused by sin. Just as it was with the scapegoat, Satan will be sent out of the limits where God’s people are.

In all these examples, we see the one carrying the sin being placed on trial, outside God’s camp, away from the chosen ones. The work of Christ is to take sin away (1 John 3:5; John 1:29). This is exactly what He did at the cross. He paid the price for the sinner, even though He was innocent. But the fact that Jesus served the sentence that was ours, doesn’t finalize the trial we are on. The truly guilty party still needs to be identified. Satan’s accusations against God were heavy. But Calvary revealed God's character, and also Satan’s. The blood of Christ removed the sin from the sinner, even though Jesus was innocent. Satan is the true guilty one in this trial. The moment will come for him to receive his sentence for all the iniquity that was generated because of him.

In Luke 17:34-37, Jesus told the people an analogy about the saved people and the ones who would not enter the kingdom of God. In His scenario, some people would be taken away, some would be left. The ones taken away seemed to be doing very similar work to the ones who were left: some were asleep, some were grinding and some were working the field. But somehow, they ended up going through different experiences. The disciples were curious about where they were taken to, and soon the question came: “Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wherever the body is, there will the vultures be gathered together.” (Luke 17:37). The Greek word for vultures in this verse is also aetos. There is a lot of confusion about these verses, and people may think that the ones being taken away are the ones saved, and the ones staying are the lost people. But Jesus is clear: the ones being taken away are the ones who will be facing the vultures. They will be the target of His judgments. Jesus will take sin away of the camp. These verses are not a representation of people being secretly taken to Heaven, while the ones who stay behind are left to face trials. These verses are the demonstration of Christ’s justice as He executes His judgments. The vultures surrounding the ones taken out of the kingdom of God are there because they have “transgressed [God’s] covenant, and trespassed against [His] law” (Hosea 8:1).

*** Three woes ***: The word “woe” was translated from the Greek oúaí, which is an expression uttered in grief or denunciation, such as alas. In Revelation 8:13, the vulture is announcing three imminent woes that are coming towards those who dwell on Earth. Each of the woes comes with one of the following trumpets. But these instances are not the only moments in the Bible where this word was used: Matthew 18:7,8 is a good example of a similar woe. Jesus was speaking to the disciples about those entering the kingdom of Heaven. He said: “Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! Therefore if your hand or your foot offend you, cut them off, and cast them from you: it is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.” The woe comes because of the offenses of the world. And those causing these offenses will suffer. Just as we have to cut off and cast out anything that may be leading us to sin, Jesus will cut off and cast out the apostate parts of the Body of Christ (of the church). The term woe/Alas is mentioned in other parts of Revelation: Revelation 9:12; Revelation 11:14; Revelation 12:12; Revelation 18:10. These verses refer to the terrible things that will happen to those who oppose God.

*** Those who dwell on the earth ***: Once again, we see the target of God’s judgments. Those who dwell on the Earth are a contrast to the citizens of Heaven (see study #42). In Revelation 12:12, we see that the ones who dwell in Heaven should rejoice, while the ones who dwell on Earth are the target of the woe exclamation. The faithful chosen people of God are not the ones who will be targeted. And this concept is repeated throughout all of the trumpets so far. There is still time for the inhabitants of the Earth to make a different choice if they heed to God’s call.

*** Overview ***: The first four trumpets were warnings to those who had fallen out of the path of the truth. The next three trumpets show how the events seen in the first four went on to develop. Revelation 8:13 is an announcement of impending danger, warning about the demonic activities being unleashed on those people who rejected the true message of God. The presence of the vulture making the woe statement indicates that the intensity of God’s judgments is about to increase. The vultures are already flying over the carcasses of the spiritually dead. If the alert is being made public, it's because the people of the Earth still have time to change sides, and leave the dead end trail. They can still tread the path of the one who overcomes. They can still be completely transformed by the redeeming blood of Jesus. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shined not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.

 

*** The sun, the moon, and the stars ***: The first time in the Bible where the sun, the moon, and the stars are mentioned is during creation. God created them on the fourth day. “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.” (Genesis 1:14-19). As God said, the sun, moon and stars were put in place in order “to divide the day from the night” (Genesis 1:14). The celestial bodies were the clear demarcation between different moments of the 24-hour earthly cycle. They were “to give light upon the earth” (Genesis 1:15). The sun, the moon, and the stars are the source of light for our planet.

*** The third part of the sun, the moon, and the stars was darkened ***: In the Old Testament, the darkening of the sun, moon and stars is often associated with the execution of God’s judgments over His enemies (Ezekiel 32:7-8; Isaiah 13:9-11; Joel 3:15), as well as His own people (Amos 5:18; Joel 2:1-2,10). One of the first examples of this is the 9th Egyptian plague (Exodus 10:21-29), the plague of darkness. The darkness was so intense in the land of Egypt, that it could be felt (Exodus 10:21). For three days, the light did not shine in Egypt. But the darkness was not global. It was targeted and focused only on those rejecting God’s commands. One of the main points of this passage is that only those rejecting the truth stand in darkness. Exodus 10:23 tells us that the Israelites “had light in their dwellings”.

In the New Testament, we read about how Satan has blinded the non-believers in such a way, that they are unable to see the “light of the glorious gospel of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Jesus is the light of the world (2 Corinthians 4:6; John 1:9; John 8:12; John 12:46; Luke 1:79). Jesus said: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19). People bring on darkness and God’s judgment upon themselves because they reject the Source of Light. When we follow Christ, we will not be left to walk in the darkness (John 8:12).

As we saw in the previous three Trumpets, the judgment that comes with the blowing of the fourth trumpet is partial and falls over one-third of the celestial bodies. As people move away from God and rejected the truth, they bury themselves deeper and deeper into darkness. Our rejection, disbelief, and disobedience block the connection between God's light and ourselves. We can no longer see His truth the way He intends His message to be presented because we are not allowing His light to flow. The day turns into darkness when our connection with God is interrupted (Micah 3:6). God respects our right to choose, even if that means rejecting Him. But He urges all of us to know the truth before coming to a final decision. He warns us against being deceived by false teachings (Matthew 24:11). There is no light in the spiritual matters being promoted if they are not based on principles and teachings contained in scripture (Isaiah 8:20).

*** A third part of the day was dark, “and the night likewise” ***: In this part of Revelation 8:12, we see an interesting consequence of the darkening of the third part of the sun, the moon, and stars. It is the darkening of the third part of the day and night. This section reminds us once again, about creation. The separation between day and night did not happen on the fourth day, when God created the sun, moon, and stars. It happened on the first day, when He created light: "Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day." (Genesis 1:3-5). This text says God was the One who divided the light from the darkness. In the fourth day of creation, we read about the function of the sun and the moon: "the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night" (Genesis 1:16). In Revelation 8:12, the rulers sun and moon are partially blocked from shining. But the effects are only felt over one-third of the day and one-third of the night. The partial blocking of the light did not affect the entire day. This emphasises the fact that the judgment brought with the blowing of the fourth trumpet is not global. It affects only a portion of the people, during a limited period of time. Darkness and night in this analogy are not equivalent. According to the verse, the night was also affected by the darkening of the moon. The idea underlined here is more so on the barriers we place between ourselves and God. Those barriers interfere with our ability to receive spiritual light directly from the source.

*** Prophetic application ***: In Study #54, we saw how the third trumpet portrayed the period known as the Dark Ages. During this time of history, people had very limited access to scripture and to the Truth. As a result, apostasy and false teachings flooded the Church. A movement of Reform raised, and many people once again became interested in finding out Biblical truths. This movement took a direction that was likely not part of the vision of the original Reformers. Theological discussions turned into polemics, and about winning arguments. Religion became less and less about developing a personal relationship with Christ. This frame of mind led people to move away from faith, belief in God, and dependence on the Savior, who is the ultimate source of spiritual light. Ironically, this period following the Dark Ages and Reform was called Age of Enlightenment, which lasted from 16th to 18th centuries. People valued reason, as they completely rejected Bible truths. The rejection of religious beliefs generated a host of philosophical approaches, such as rationalism, skepticism, humanism, and liberalism. All of these ultimately led to the development of a new principle: secularism. Without going into much detail, Secularism is the concept of separation of church and state. It is the idea that government business should not be connected to religious affairs. A number of incorrect meanings have been assigned to this term over time, but this is the meaning it was intended originally and is still what it means. There is no doubt that secularism brought about many positive results to the Western Civilization, like religious liberty, art, education, medicine, and more. But it surely had a significant negative impact on Christianity. There was a shift in focus from the spiritual to the material. Human reason replaced Bible authority and faith. ‘Self’ became the center of attention, instead of God. Under this line of thought, Christ could no longer be the only path to a spiritual life.

*** Overview ***: When the Source of Light is being rejected, the lines that demarcate the truth become blurry. When we are not looking at our existence in this world through God’s light, it becomes much harder to identify what is right and what is wrong. Without the Word of God, it is very hard to remain on the path of the overcomer or to find that to begin with. Psalm 119:105 says: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." The effects of the partial blocking of the truth after the Dark Ages are still being felt today. But God is calling us out of the darkness, to arise and shine, because the glory of the Lord is risen upon us (Isaiah 60:1-3; Matthew 4:16; Colossians 1:12-14). The first four trumpets came in pairs. The first two dealt with the punishment poured on the two nations responsible for the rejection of Jesus, in a general scale. The following two trumpets deal with the judgment cast on the apostate Church, and the consequences of that rejection on a more personal level. The fourth trumpet identifies the darkness people will find themselves in when they deny God’s teachings. It happened in the past. I can still happen today. Once we understand that this is the situation we may be in, we can do something about it. We must hear what the Father has called us to be: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Peter 2:9).

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