Thursday, December 11, 2014

WOE TO THE WORLD (Revelation Chapter 9)

Revelation 9:1-6, “And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit.  He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft.  Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth.  They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.  They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone.  And in those days people will seek death and will not find it.  They will long to die, but death will flee from them.”

The preceding chapter ended with the three-fold warning—“woe, woe, woe”--to those “who dwell on earth” regarding the last three trumpets and the escalating judgments associated with them.  Webster’s defines the term “woe” as “a condition of deep suffering from misfortune, affliction, or grief.”  The judgment associated with the blowing of the fifth trumpet will work to bring deep suffering and abiding torment to those on earth “who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads” (Revelation 9:4).  Unlike the previous judgments, these pending ones target men rather than nature.  In this particular judgment demonic forces are unleashed that work to cause havoc among the human population.  But even so men refuse to repent (Cf. Revelation 9:20-21).

At the sounding of the trumpet a star “fallen from earth to heaven” (Revelation 9:1; Cf. Luke 10:18; Revelation 12:9) is given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit.  This bottomless pit is elsewhere referred to six other times in the book (Cf. Revelation 9:2, 11; 11:7; 17:8; 20:1, 3).  According to Luke 8:31 the bottomless pit is the abode of demons.  The fallen star is given a key to “the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit” (Revelation 9:1).  Nothing happens outside of God’s sovereign counsel (Cf. Ephesians 1:11).  Since the key that works to unleash the demonic horde was given to him, it is obvious that he did not have it in his control.  God will use Satan to accomplish His purposes in judgment.

The demons are let out of their prison.  We read from time to time of escaped convicts or released terrorists who go forth to cause mayhem and harm.  But nothing in mankind’s past experience can compare to what will take place when the demons are let go from the pit.  When the shaft of the abyss is opened smoke ushers forth to darken the sun and the air.  From the smoke come “locusts on the earth” (Revelation 9:3).  Many Old Testament prophecies are either fulfilled or alluded to in the book of Revelation.  The prophet Joel warned the people of his day of a locust-like judgment to come (Cf. Joel 1:4).  Locusts are numerous, unpredictable, unstoppable, and destructive.  This demonic host will be likewise except that they are specifically told not to harm any foliage or those sealed by God (Cf. Revelation 9:4).

They are allowed to torment people for five months.  It has been noted by commentators that five months is the period of time in which locusts typically cause destruction.  These locusts inflict harm but do not kill.  Their mode of operation is likened to the sting of a scorpion.  The sting of an actual scorpion is not typically fatal (though children who are stung sometime die) but is incredibly painful.  The venom affects the veins and the nervous system.  There are different kinds of scorpions, and some are not as dangerous as others, but a sting from the more lethal variety can cause “widespread numbness, difficulty swallowing, a thick tongue, blurred vision, roving eye movements, seizures, salivation, and difficulty breathing.”  The intensity of the affliction is evident in that “people will seek death and will not find it” (Revelation 9:6).  Those afflicted by these demonic forces will be powerless to escape.  Their radical depravity and sin’s tenacity are evidenced in their refusal—even amidst these terrifying judgments--to repent of their evil deeds (Cf. Revelation 9:21-22).  Woes are coming to planet earth.  Judgment even now awaits all “those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:8).  As bad as this fifth trumpet judgment is, those who do not know God will experience something far worse in an “eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord (Cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:9).  The only way to avoid woe in judgment is to receive the One who came, as Savior, to bring “joy to the world” (Cf. Romans 10:9).

No comments: