As a result of a near three-month break in our study, it may be profitable to briefly look at the material we have covered.
Revelation chapter one dealt with the introductions and verses setting up the premise of the prophecy.† After that we identified three main divisions; 1) Revelation 1:9 Ė 3:22 in which the appearance of Christ is described and in which He wrote, through the hand of John, letters to the seven churches. 2) Revelation 4:1-20:15 in which the deployment of Godís salvation history is described as well as the vicious attacks that Satan launches on the church. 3) Revelation 21:1 Ė 22:5, in which the completion of salvation history is described.† Finally, chapter 22:6-21 closes this prophecy with admonitions and petitions.†
On September 11, 2003, in our last lesson, we dealt with Revelation 8:7, starting with the first of the seven trumpets, after having studied the letters to the seven churches, and the seven seals.† The first trumpet brought hail and fire, the second trumpet and something like a huge mountain was thrown into the sea and a third of the sea turned into blood.† The third trumpet brought the fall of a great star, Wormwood, which fell on a third of the rivers and the springs of the earth, killing many people.† The fourth trumpet and a third of the sun, moon and the stars were darkened.† These four trumpets disrupted the four basic elements required for daily living on earth: first, food and food production, then water, then merchant travels, and finally the interruption of light disrupting the ability for people to work and produce.
In Revelation 8:13 an eagle called out in a loud voice while flying, announcing three woes to the inhabitants of the earth because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the last three angels.† Their trumpet blasts would be much worse than the first four.
The fifth trumpet revealed a fallen star who was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss.† It may be beneficial to start again at Revelation 9:1, revisiting the fifth angelís trumpet.
John sees a star that falls from heaven to earth.
Luke 10:17 - 20 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.Ē 18He replied, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.Ē
This is Satanís current situation after he rebelled against God and lost his holiness in heaven. John sees Satan receiving the key to the abyss, to open it and allow the devils to escape from the abyss. But Jesus comforts his disciples that He has given them power over these demons and admonishes them not to boast and rejoice that the spirits submit to them, but rather that they should rejoice that their names have been written in the book of life.
The evil swarm that emerges from the abyss can do so only by the purpose and permission of the God enthroned in heaven. The key to the abyss given to Satan indicates his royal authority to command and control its occupants. That is why he is called king and angel of the abyss. He is the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan whom John will later, in chapter 12, see cast out of heaven and down to earth.
As John witnesses the opening of the abyss, he sees the multitude of demons and raw evil rose through the shaft that connects the abyss to the surface of the earth. John sees this migration of evil as smoke that rises like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. It is so intense that the sun and sky was darkened by it.
As evil darkens the sky it separates the inhabitants of earth from God and gives Satan and his henchmen an opportunity, under the restraint of God, to bring deception into the hearts of men.
Psalm 84:10, 11 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. 11For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.Ē
It is an evil that demons practice of their own accord and although God would allow this evil to befall his children, He would always let good come from it.
Genesis 45:4 - 8 Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come close to me." When they had done so, he said, "I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt, 5and now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. 7But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8"So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.
Oftentimes locusts are used to deliver Godís judgment to the people.
Exodus 10:4 - 6 If you refuse to let them go, I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow. 5They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen. They will devour what little you have left after the hail, including every tree that is growing in your fields. 6They will fill your houses and those of all your officials and all the Egyptians--something neither your fathers nor your forefathers have ever seen from the day they settled in this land till now.'" Then Moses turned and left Pharaoh.
Joel 1:4, 5 What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten. 5Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you drinkers of wine; wail because of the new wine, for it has been snatched from your lips.
Joel 2:25 'I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten--the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm--my great army that I sent among you.
Amos 7:1, 2† This is what the Sovereign LORD showed me: He was preparing swarms of locusts after the king's share had been harvested and just as the second crop was coming up. 2When they had stripped the land clean, I cried out, "Sovereign LORD, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!"
The scorpions were given power like that of scorpions, which is to inflict severe, or demonic pain on certain people without killing them.† We see that Scripture explains the role of scorpions as that which represents the enemies of man.
Deuteronomy 8:15 He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock.
Ezekiel 2:6 And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house.
Luke 10:19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
Luke 11:11 - 13 "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!Ē
The locusts received special instructions, not to do what they naturally would do, which is to devour grass and plants, but only to inflict pain on those people who did not have Godís seal on their foreheads.† The fifth trumpet reveals to us Godís judgment through the locusts because they act in contrast to their nature and inflict pain on humans rather than damage the grass, plants and trees.† If there are some who will suffer this judgment of the locusts, then it stands to reason that there are some who will escape it.† They will not be hurt by them.
Revelation 2:11† He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.
We see the same concept, hurt, damage, punish and harm, in other verses of which a few are,
Isaiah 26:20, 21 Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. 21See, the LORD is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer.
Revelation 6:6 Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!Ē
Revelation 7:2 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea.
The antithesis can be found in the following:
Exodus 9:4 - 6 But the LORD will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die. 5The LORD set a time and said, "Tomorrow the LORD will do this in the land.Ē 6And the next day the LORD did it: All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one animal belonging to the Israelites died.
Exodus 12:13, 23 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. 23When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.
Isaiah 54:17 No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me," declares the LORD.
Isaiah 65:8† This is what the LORD says: "As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes and men say, 'Don't destroy it, there is yet some good in it,' so will I do in behalf of my servants; I will not destroy them all.
Those who carry Godís seal will not be harmed by Godís judgment.
Daniel 3:17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.
Daniel 6:16† So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions' den. The king said to Daniel, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!Ē
Zephaniah 2:3 Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD'S anger.
Romans 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
The limitation placed on the locusts that they would not be able to kill those who did not have Godís seal on their foreheads indicates that the time for their ultimate punishment was not yet at hand.† The word torture indicates further that their punishment would not be a rampant infliction of pain but a measured judgment from God.† Five months appear to be the life span of a locust, so the locusts would have no other mission and they would be expended for this task.†
The same concept of torture appears in other places in Scripture:
Revelation 11:10 The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.
Revelation 14:10, 11 He, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.
Genesis 19:24 Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah--from the LORD out of the heavens.
Deuteronomy 29:23 The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulfur--nothing planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in fierce anger.
Job 18:15 Fire resides in his tent; burning sulfur is scattered over his dwelling.
Job 21:20 Let his own eyes see his destruction; let him drink of the wrath of the Almighty.
Psalm 11:6 On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot.
Psalm 75:8 In the hand of the LORD is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices; he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs.
Habakkuk 2:16 You will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn! Drink and be exposed! The cup from the LORD'S right hand is coming around to you, and disgrace will cover your glory.
Matthew 13:41, 42 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 25:41† "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.Ē
During these five months the infliction meted out by the locusts will be so severe that they will seek death rather than continuing suffering the pain brought about by the locustsí stings.
Jeremiah 8:2, 3 They will be exposed to the sun and the moon and all the stars of the heavens, which they have loved and served and which they have followed and consulted and worshiped. They will not be gathered up or buried, but will be like refuse lying on the ground. 3Wherever I banish them, all the survivors of this evil nation will prefer death to life, declares the LORD Almighty.
Job 3:20 - 22 "Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul? 21To those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for hidden treasure? 22Who are filled with gladness and rejoice when they reach the grave?
Revelation 6:16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb.Ē
The deferment of their deaths is an indication that their suffering at the hands of the fifth angel is not yet the ultimate punishment waiting for them.† This punishment is only temporary.
This image related to us by John proves that these are not real locusts, but rather demons under Godís restraint.† The language used here to described the crowns, ďsomething like crowns of goldĒ clearly depicts something other than crowns and not genuine gold but something that looks like gold.† The symbols of victory are counterfeit just as their victory will be false.†
The fact that they looked like horses prepared for battle but are not really horses, further indicates that there is some falsity and illegitimate about them.† Thus are the demons that strike at the evildoers, those who do not bear Godís seal.† Their victory would be temporary.
Their faces resembled human faces indicating that they had sufficient intelligence to act like people.† Perhaps outsmarting them to be able to inflict the punishment that God wanted them to suffer.
In Godís judgment Scripture oftentimes speak of animals taking on human characteristics and through symbolism reveals to us more about the judgment.
Daniel 7:4, 8† "The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a man, and the heart of a man was given to it. 8"While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully.Ē
Joel 2:4, 5 They have the appearance of horses; they gallop along like cavalry. 5With a noise like that of chariots they leap over the mountaintops, like a crackling fire consuming stubble, like a mighty army drawn up for battle.
Nahum 3:17 Your guards are like locusts, your officials like swarms of locusts that settle in the walls on a cold day--but when the sun appears they fly away, and no one knows where.
Joel spoke about these locusts, with their teeth like a lion.
Joel 1:1 - 7 The word of the LORD that came to Joel son of Pethuel. 2Hear this, you elders; listen, all who live in the land. Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your forefathers? 3Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. 4What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten. 5Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you drinkers of wine; wail because of the new wine, for it has been snatched from your lips. 6A nation has invaded my land, powerful and without number; it has the teeth of a lion, the fangs of a lioness. 7It has laid waste my vines and ruined my fig trees. It has stripped off their bark and thrown it away, leaving their branches white.
Their breastplates suggest to us that they will be invulnerable against any retaliation from those who do not bear Godís seal. They sounded like war and destruction instilling a terrible fear into their hearts.† Only those who bear the seal of God will be unaffected by all of this.
John repeats verse five to reiterate that the punishment would be temporary, that their power would be structured to torment, and that it would be very painful.
The angel of the Abyss is none other than Satan himself, and the locusts his band of demons doing his wicked work.† He raises himself up against Christ, which he has done many times before, unsuccessfully trying to tempt Christ to rebel against his Father; unsuccessfully trying to lure the church and the elect away from Christ.† These demons were very well organized under Satanís command.† Scripture relates to us his name in both Greek and Hebrew indicating the entire human population.† Scripture uses these two ethnic groups in other instances to indicate the entire human population.
I Corinthians 1:24 But to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
We donít mean to imply that God called the entire human population but that he called from the entire human population those according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28† And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Satan is king over the entire human race excepting those who bear Godís seal.† This revelation sheds light on the question of whether there is such a thing in the Christian doctrine as double predestination, meaning that God predestined some to go to heaven and predestined some to go to eternal destruction.† On the face of it, it appears as if this is sound scriptural teaching, especially in the light of verses such as the following:
Proverbs 16:4 The LORD works out everything for his own ends--even the wicked for a day of disaster.
Romans 9:21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use.
II Timothy 2:20† In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble.
II Peter 2:9 If this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.
Double predestination, defined in this way, implies that the human race is somehow in a neutral or innocent state from where God sends some to one place and other to another place.† This is a false perception mostly because the element of time has been removed from the equation, making it an instrument with which the truth of Scripture is attacked and believers confused.†
Scripture teaches that God first predestined those who will not follow the beast into the abyss.
Revelation 17:8 The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come.
After the fall, God would have been perfectly just and fair if He destroyed all of the human race and be done with all of creation.† But, instead God announced the covenant of grace to Adam and Eve, leaving all of mankind in a cesspool of death, depraved of the ability to glorify Him.† Not a single soul deserved to live after the fall.† Not even those whose names were written in the book of life; who were the objects of the covenant of grace.† They, too, were destined to suffer eternal punishment in hell, unless God would work some miraculous intervention of which the covenant of grace was a promise.† As we all know Christís merits earned on the cross was that miraculous intervention.†
So, if we apply the chronological component to the doctrine of double predestination, a totally different picture emerges, putting Scripture passages such as Romans 9:21 in proper perspective.† All men were destined for eternal damnation after the fall.† Not only those whose names were not recorded into the book of life before creation.† Everybody.† Christís mighty hand plucked those, whose names were recorded in the book of life, from that cesspool of death.† The others remained under Godís wrath, just as they deserved as a consequence of their wickedness.
John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him.
This passage confirms what we have been saying here, that there is death outside of the Son on everyone.† From among those, whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, and cross over from death to life.† The rest remain under the curse.† They are not predestined to go anywhere that they are not already.
John 5:24† "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
John 12:46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
God, therefore, predestined that only some would live.† The predestination of the destruction of the wicked is not on an equal footing with the predestination of the salvation of the elect making double predestination as a doctrine an inaccurate statement of the truth.† The one occurred before the other.† The concept of a two-fold predestination can be found in, first, the predestination of the living, the recording of the electís names in the book of life before creation, and second, the predestination of the dead, which included the living.† The death and merits of Christ were the execution of the first predestination, accomplishing what the Father had ordained before He created heaven and earth.
If we, then, look at Revelation 9:11, we see that Satan is truly the king of all of mankind because all of mankind allied with him after the fall and subjected themselves to his authority, eternally separating themselves from God.† Only by the mercy of God, inexplicable in its cause, did He effect the merits of his Sonís sacrifice on the cross for those whom He desired to eternally be in his presence at the end of time.
The first of the three woes announced by the eagle in Revelation 8:13 past. The remaining two are also fearsome.
Though limited in duration and severity, this outbreak of demonic activity among the unbelieving carries the expression of Godís wrath in the course of history to a new level, a first woe.† The terrors and anxieties during a civilizationís dissolution, such as Rome would undergo in the coming centuries, epitomize but do not exhaust the torments of heart and mind symbolized by the army of the fifth trumpet.