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Revelation 9:1-20 (See the Book Comments for the Introductory chapters and Appendices)
Lesson 17: The Fifth and Sixth Trumpets, and First Two Woes ( Rev 9:1-20 )
The Fifth Trumpet and the First Woe ( Rev 9:1-12 )
1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him. 2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit. 3 And out of the smoke came forth locusts upon the earth; and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 4 And they were told that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months; and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a Man 1:6 And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; and they will long to die and death flees from them. 7 And the appearance of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle; and on their heads, as it were, crowns like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. 8 And they had hair like the hair of women, and their teeth were like the teeth of lions. 9 And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to battle. 10 And they have tails like scorpions, and stings; and in their tails is their power to hurt men for five months. 11 They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon. 12 The first woe is past; behold, two woes are still coming after these things.
The Fallen Star and the Opening of the Abyss ( Rev 9:1-2 )
As we begin our study of this judgment it is important to remember that these last three trumpets were called "woes" ( Rev 8:13 ) to draw our attention to the increased intensity of these judgments as the Tribulation moves closer and closer to its end. Also, remember that one of the purposes of the Tribulation is to unmask Satan’s true character. The fifth trumpet will begin to do this even more clearly. In the church age, Satan often disguises himself as an angel of light with his servants doing likewise ( 2Co 11:14-15 ), but from this point on in the Tribulation, the mask will come off and his true colors will be evident for the whole world to see.
This leads us to consider the "star from (out of) heaven which had fallen to earth." A careful consideration of the context shows us that this star is not a literal meteor or star, but stands symbolically for a person, an angelic creature--specifically Satan.
In more accurate translations, the star is described as "had fallen" (NASB, NIV), looking at the result of a completed event rather than as "fall," suggesting that John saw the star falling as in the KJV. "Had fallen" is in the perfect tense and points to a fallen condition or state, to what had already occurred with existing results. The event itself is undoubtedly described in chapter 12. That the star is a personality or another angel is suggested by the following:
(1) To this star is given the key to the bottomless pit and the star is called a "him." Note also the translation "he" inRevelation 9:2; Revelation 9:2 . In the Greek text, "him" is an intensive, personal pronoun ( autos ). It is in the dative case and can be masculine (to him) or neuter (to it), but is properly translated "him" because the context is describing a person. Some take the pronouns here to refer to the fifth angel, but the nearest subject to the pronoun and the verb is the star.
(2) The star is seen performing the actions of personality. He opens the abyss ( Rev 9:2 ) which would indicate that the star is in charge of these creatures of the abyss and somehow related to them.
(3) The star is given the ascriptions and appellatives of a person. This is seen in Rev 9:11 which describes the star’s specific relationship to the demonic creatures of the abyss. There he is spoken of as a king, specifically called the Angel of the Abyss, and given names, "Abaddon" and "Apollyon." That the star of Rev 9:1 is the king and angel of Rev 9:11 seems clearly evident for two reasons: First, the mention of the fallen star in verse one would be meaningless unless he is the actor who opens the pit. Unless this is the case, why call attention to a fallen star. Second, the fact the star was given the key and authority to open the pit in order to bring destruction on the world also fits with the names given to this angel of the abyss. Both names, Abaddon and Apollyon, mean "destruction."
(4) There is further support for this view in the fact that, in Scripture, angels are called "stars" ( Job 38:7 ) and Satan is specifically referred to as a star (cf. Isa 14:12 with Luk 10:18 ). Regarding Isa 14:12 as a reference to Satan, Ryrie writes: " star of the morning . Lit., the bright one. Evidently a reference to Satan embodied in the king of Babylon because of Christ’s similar description ( Luk 10:18 ) and because of the inappropriateness of the expressions of Isa 14:13-14 on the lips of any but Satan (cf. 1Ti 3:6 )." [Note: Charles C. Ryrie, Ryrie Study Bible, Expanded Edition, NASB, Moody Press: Chicago, 1995, p. 1069.] While the description in Luk 10:18 does not use the term "star," the description of seeing Satan "falling from heaven like lightening" can certainly fit the picture of a falling star streaking across the sky like lightning or a beam of light. "Lightning" is astrape„ , "lightening, brightness, a beam of light." [Note: The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 3, Colin Brown, general editor, Zondervan: Grand Rapids, p. 1001.]
(5) Finally, Luke 8:31 , 2Pe 2:4 and Jud 1:6 show us that the abyss, here called "the pit of the abyss," in 2 Peter 2:4 , "the pits of darkness," and inJude 1:6; Jude 1:6 , "eternal bonds under darkness" is the abode of a portion of demons or fallen angels. Other Scriptures teach us that Satan is the ruler or king of the fallen angels; they are viewed as his angels (Matthew 12:24 ; Matthew 12:26 ; Ephesians 2:2 ; Revelation 12:4 ; Rev 12:7 ). See also Joh 12:31 and Ephesians 6:12 . What we see in these verses fits very well with the facts of Revelation 9:1-21 .
The opening of the abyss results in a literal darkness, but it is also symbolical of the spiritual darkness that is about to fill the earth and portrays the system and activities of Satan.
Regarding Satan’s fall, consider the following three points:
(1) Satan’s fall is both historic and prophetic. Historically, he lost his position as the anointed cherub when he sinned and rebelled against God. This fall and the reasons for it are recorded in Ezekiel 28:11 f and Isaiah 14:12 f. Revelation is another reference to this fall. Prophetically, he will be permanently cast out of heaven and restricted to earth in the middle of the Tribulation. Rev 12:7-17 describes this event that will occur dead center in the Tribulation. It starts the Great Tribulation. While Luk 10:18 shows us the power of Satan has been broken, with the success of the seventy disciples over demons proving that ( Rev 12:17 ), it may also be prophetic of Satan’s final defeat.
(2) During this interim, Satan evidently has access into God’s presence to accuse believers night and day. One of Satan’s chief purposes in this is to malign the character of God who sentenced him to the lake of fire (cf. Job 1:6-11 ; Revelation 12:10 ; Mat 12:41 ). Satan is not called "the adversary," antidikos , "an opponent in a lawsuit," and "the devil," diabolos , "the slanderer," for no reason.
(3) Rev 9:1-11 does not record the fall itself, but the aftermath of Satan’s fall to earth occurring in the middle of the Tribulation. Knowing that his time is short, he will do all he can to bring about pain and suffering on the earth including the greatest time of anti-Semitism the world has ever known (see Rev 12:13-17 ).
Giving the fallen star "the key" obviously stands for authority and power to open the bottomless pit.
"Of the bottomless pit" is literally, "the pit of the abyss." "Bottomless" is the abussos , "abyss, unfathomable depths." This word is used Luke 8:31 , Rom 10:7 and inRevelation 9:1-2; Revelation 9:1-2 ; Revelation 9:11 ; Revelation 11:7 ; Revelation 17:8 ; Revelation 20:1 ; Revelation 20:3 . "Pit" is the Greek phrear , "pit, well, shaft." But what is this abyss?
(1) The abyss is the temporary abode and prison of a portion of the demon hosts where they wait their eternal and final judgment to the lake of fire.
(2) Various descriptions of this place: (a) In 2Pe 2:4 it is described as "the abode of the judged," Literally, "having cast them into tartarus" ( tartaroo„ , "to hold captive in tartarus"). Tartarus means "the abode of the judged," and as "pits of darkness." "Pits" is seiros , "a deep pit as used in storing grain," and "darkness" is zophos , "blackness." (b) In Jud 1:6 it is described as "eternal bonds under darkness." (c) In Luk 8:31 and Romans 10:7 , it is described simply as "the abyss," abussos , "the place of unfathomable depth." (d) In Revelation 9:1-2 , it is described as "the pit or shaft of the abyss, and (e) as "the spirits now in prison" in 1 Peter 3:19-20 .
(3) A study of the above passages show us that the abyss is a place of judgment for demons for specific sin. It is utterly black and the demons there are in total oblivion to the rest of the universe. It is also a place of bondage, a prison from which not even Satan can release them until he is give the key and authority to do so in keeping with God’s sovereign purpose for the Tribulation.
(4) The majority of these bound demons are there because they left their normal habitation and abode. This refers to leaving their heavenly sphere and purpose as designed by God. Some believe this includes whatever is involved in the events of Genesis 6:1-22 .
(5) It appears that others were cast there by Christ during His ministry on earth according to Luke 8:31-33 . In this regard, just some food for thought: (a) According to Luke 11:24 f, demons travel and seek habitats in waterless places. (b) The Greek translation in the LXX for the Hebrew word, tehom , "deep, ocean, large body of water," and for salah , "ocean, deep," is our word abussos . (c)Revelation 21:1; Revelation 21:1 ; Revelation 22:1 f describe conditions of the new heavens and earth in which the only water is the river of life. Evidently, there will be no sea or ocean in the new earth. (d) It is interesting that the specific judgment God used on the antediluvian world, the world involved with the fallen angels called, "sons of God," inGenesis 6:1-22; Genesis 6:1-22 , was the flood. The flood was not merely caused by rain, but by the crust of the earth breaking up with water coming from subterranean levels. Is there some kind of relation between water, the oceans, and the subterranean levels and the abyss? Interestingly, the swine running into the water was certainly a judgment and was perhaps symbolical of the fact that Christ was sending them into the abyss.
In Revelation 9:1-21 , Satan, the king of the fallen angels or demons, is given the power and authority by God to open the abyss and release these demons on earth as part and instruments of God’s divine wrath.
All the demons including Satan will be bound and thrown into the abyss again at the end of the Tribulation for 1,000 years ( Rev 20:1-3 ). Satan will be released from his prison at the end of the 1,000 years, and he will come out to deceive the nations. Some will follow him but the King of kings will quickly defeat him and cast him with his demon hosts into the lake of fire forever ( Rev 20:7-10 ).
The following chart illustrates the history of the imprisonment of demons:
[GRAPHIC: See Topic file version for graphic]
Revelation 9:2 . "And he opened…" draws our attention to Satan’s character--cruel, vicious, and hurtful to the core. As soon as the opportunity is presented, he takes advantage of it. He does not need to be coaxed. He simply needs the opportunity--the removal of the restraining hand of God. Remember, as "the adversary," he is the one who walks about like a roaring lion always in search of someone to devour ( 1Pe 5:8 ).
"And smoke went up out of the pit;… and the sun and the air were darkened." "Air" is the Greek, ae„r and refers to the atmosphere about the earth. Earth’s atmosphere will become polluted with the smoke pouring out of the abyss. This will block out the sun and suddenly all will be dark. This is a literal darkness, but is also symbolical of the spiritual darkness that will fall on the earth in the system and activities of Satan and his end time system of the beast.
This demonic activity that will literally fill the atmosphere will be clearly evident to the eyes of men, even the demon creatures themselves. Ironically, according to Eph 2:2 and other passages, our atmosphere and the world we live in even now are full of demonic forces and activity, but on the whole, they are hidden to the world. Many do not really believe in a real devil or in demons. Many may be blind to their existence now, but not so in the future.
Demonic Torment Loosed Upon Man ( Rev 9:3-5 )
Revelation 9:3 : The appearance of these demonic creatures of the abyss is given in verses seven and following. Here they are simply called locusts with the stinging power of scorpions. Descending out of the abyss, these are demons but they will take on the form described in verses seven and following. This is a literal phenomenon that will occur and it has spiritual significance. In Scripture locusts are associated with divine wrath ( Exo 10:12-20 ). This is why they are called locusts. But unlike the locusts of history who attack vegetation, these are commanded not to hurt the grass, etc.; their purpose will be to hurt men.
9:4 : In this verse these demon creatures are told not to do what locusts normally do--attack vegetation. In Old Testament times and throughout history the locust is a symbol of destruction and terror. I have read that they may travel in a column 100 feet deep and up to four miles in length leaving the land stripped bare of all vegetation. [Note: Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1977.]
Who gives this command to hurt only man but not the vegetation? In the light of God’s dealings with Satan in the Book of Job, this is probably God. The only one excluded from this torment of locust are the 144,000 who have the seal of God in their foreheads. We might assume, however, that as far as this plague is concerned, they stand representatively for all believers and that any believer would be spared this torment. Why? This is a judgment upon men who have rejected Christ, not for believers in Jesus Christ, those who had believed the message of the 144,000.
9:5 : It is interesting to note that again specific limitations are placed on these demonic creatures by God. They are limited as to what and who they may strike ( Rev 9:4 ), as to how far they may go in the torment (not unto death), and as to how long (five months) ( Rev 9:5 ).
"Scorpion" is the Greek word skorpios . This was a lobster like vermin some four or five inches long. It had a claw on the end of the tail that secreted a poison when it struck. [Note: Mounce.] Please notice that these demons are not called scorpions, nor are we told that they look like scorpions, just that they have the power ( Rev 9:3 ), and torment ( Rev 9:5 ) of a scorpion. This means they have the power to cause tremen-dous pain, short of death, but extending for five months.
9:6 : In this verse we see the effect which will drive men to seek suicide, but they will be unable to accomplish it. Death will elude them. This is astounding and clearly a supernatural restraint of God that stresses and demonstrates His absolute authority or sovereignty. As Ryrie puts it, "Bodies will not sink and drown; poisons and pills will have no effect; and somehow even bullets and knives will not do their inten-ded job." [Note: Charles C. Ryrie, Revelation, Moody Press: Chicago, 1968, p. 62.]
So in addition to the natural plagues that have afflicted the earth, now men are directly attacked and tormented by these demonic creatures.
The Demonic Locust Creatures Described ( Rev 9:9-10 )
These verses make it clear that these creatures are not ordinary locusts, and are only called such because of their function in judgment. The same applies, as mentioned above, to their likeness to scorpions. The emphasis is on the capacity to torment and to cause pain.
In their description John lists eight things about their appearance. He begins with the head and moves backward to their tails, the source of their power to inflict torment for the five months. Torment is their sole purpose. The description here defies imag-ination, but remember, these are demonic creatures that have come from the abyss. They are the worst of the demons of Satan. Whether they take on this form as a demonic-like apparition, or just what happens here we are not told. But they will be real and will inflict terrible torment upon mankind. It will be a literal hell on earth.
The Leader of the Demons ( Rev 9:11 )
This king over the demons is of course Satan. He is called the Angel of the Abyss because he is a fallen angel and because of his own relation to the abyss and to those within it. They are there bec-ause they followed his rebellion, he is given the key to release them and he will be bound there himself.
His name given in both Hebrew and Greek means destroyer . This is just another of the many names of Satan given in Scripture that por-tray his character and activities (cf. Rev 12:9 ). As the destroyer he is the one chiefly responsible for all the forms of destruction in this life, from the Garden of Eden to the last battle at the end of the Millennium ( Gen 3:1-24 to Rev 20:1-15 ). In many ways, the Scripture is in essence a portrait of two, of Satan and his destruction, and the Savior and His deliver-ance.
The Announcement of Two More Woes ( Rev 9:12 )
With the first woe now past we are informed that the next two woes are still to come. As serious and fearful as the first woe is in its torment, it is only the first. The worst is yet to come. As we shall see in the second woe and have seen in the first, the Tribulation unmasks the true character of Satan in all his evil and cruelty, but it also demonstrates the depravity and rebellion of the human heart. This will especially be seen in this second woe.
Concerning this woe Walvoord says,
For the first time in history all those who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior will come under demonic possession and affliction. What is true in that hour is also true in some measure today, for there is no deliverance from the power of Satan nor from his affliction apart from salvation in Christ and the delivering power of God. [Note: John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Moody Press: Chicago, 1966, p. 164.]
Today we are seeing the stages set for this very black and degenerate hour that is portrayed in this sixth trumpet or second woe.
The Sixth Trumpet and Second Woe ( Rev 9:13-21 )
13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, 14 one saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates." 15 And the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released, so that they might kill a third of mankind. 16 And the number of the armies of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. 17 And this is how I saw in the vision the horses and those who sat on them: the riders had breastplates the color of fire and of hyacinth and of brimstone; and the heads of the horses are like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths proceed fire and smoke and brimstone. 18 A third of mankind was killed by these three plagues, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone, which proceeded out of their mouths. 19 For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents and have heads; and with them they do harm. 20 And the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; 21 and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.
The Voice From the Four Horns of the Golden Altar ( Rev 9:13 )
This is the same altar mentioned in Rev 8:3 in the scene of the offering of incense with the prayers of the saints. The voice is probably that of the priestly angel and the implication is that this judgment like the preceding is in answer to the prayers of the saints so persecuted by the beast in the Tribulation.
The Release of the Four Angels ( Rev 9:14-15 )
The sixth angel is instructed to release four angels bound at the River Euphrates. The Euphrates is called great, perhaps not just for its size, but because of its prominence and importance in Scripture.
_9:14-15 speak of four angels that are bound at the Euphrates River and then released to kill one - third of mankind. The Euphrates is mentioned twice in Revelation, here and in 16:12.
The epithet "great" is used in both occurrences. The entire length is 1780 miles, and it is by far the longest and most important river of western Asia. The Euphrates was the natural boundary separating the nations of the east from Palestine. Its broad stream flowed between Israel and her powerful enemy Assyria. The Euphrates was also the limit of the Roman conquests in that part of the world. We understand, therefore, that the literal Euphrates is here signified, and not the Turkish power. [Note: Walter Scott, Exposition of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Fleming H. Revell: Westwood, NJ, p. 210.]
Who are these angels? They are fallen angels, demonic spirits similar to those inRevelation 16:13-14; Revelation 16:13-14 . The four angels of Rev 7:1 are good angels who carry out the judgment of God. These, however, appear to be fallen angels because they have been bound. Good angels are never spoken of as bound, unless this is the exception. On the other hand, demonic spirits or fallen angels are bound or will be (cf.Jude 1:6; Jude 1:6 ; 2 Peter 2:4 ; Rev 20:2 with 9:1ff). These, then, are wicked angels prepared by God to be released as a further judgment against a godless, Christ rejecting world.
The expression "For the hour and day and month and year" refers not to the duration of their activity, but to the fact this occurs exactly on the hour of God’s appointment, i.e., the exact hour of the day, month, and year that God ordained it. God raises up both men and demons as His instruments to accomplish His purposes in history. Each acts out of their own volition, according to their schemes and nature, but God, knowing them from eternity past, raises them up in history to carry out His purpose even at the exact hour (cf. Isaiah 10:5 f; Rom 9:11-18 ).
"So that they might kill a third of mankind." This states their purpose in the plan of God. But just how do they do this? The following verses tell us. They do it through an army of 200,000,000. Earlier one - fourth of the earth’s population is killed in the fourth seal. Now one - third of the remaining population of mankind is wiped out. This means the earth’s total population is reduced by one - half by these two judgments alone and these judgments do not account for all the deaths that will occur. The other judgments also will result in widespread destruction of human life. As Walvoord says, "Never since Noah has such a substan-tial proportion of the earth’s population come under God’s righteous judgment." [Note: Walvoord, p. 165.]
The Army of Two-Hundred Million ( Rev 9:16-19 )
Is this a literal two-hundred million man army or a description of an innumerable host? Walter Scott thinks that it should not be taken literally.
We have had the number of the invisible leaders, four ; now both the reader and the Seer are informed as to the number of the invading hosts, stated to be " twice ten thousand times ten thousand ," or two hundred millions. This immense host is a number too vast for human conception. The mind gets bewildered in the effort to comprehend such an army which for number surpasses anything ever seen on earth. The unseen chariots of God are similarly numbered ( Psa 68:17 )…A literal army consisting of two hundred millions of cavalry need not be thought of. The main idea in the passage is a vast and overwhelming army, one beyond human computation, and exceeding by far any before witnessed. [Note: Scott, p. 211.]
Ryrie is of the opinion that this army is made up of demons. He says, "The weapons of this army are fire, smoke, and brimstone ( Rev 9:17 ) which are weapons of hell and may further indicate that the army is made up of the inhabitants of hell--demons." [Note: Ryrie, Revelation, p. 64.] It is clear that the four angels are the demons, however, it is more likely that this army, like one gathered in 16:14, is a human army already in existence which these demons now cause to move against mankind simi-lar to the work of the three unclean spirits who cause the kings of the earth to gather together for the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:13 ff). Walvoord writes:
There is no direct statement as to the origin of this army, but the implication is, from the fact that the angels of Rev 9:14 were bound "in" or at Euphrates, that the army may come from the East. A similar and later development mentioned in Rev 16:12 following the outpouring of the sixth vial also depicts an invasion from the East. Unless the vials and the trumpets coincide as some believe, these are two different events, possibly two different phases of the same operation. Chronologically the trumpets involved closely succeed one another and their judgments seem to fall like trip-hammer blows as the great Tribulation comes to its close. Whether the army is held to be the literal number mentioned or not, it is clear that this is a massive force of tremendous military power as evidenced in its capacity to slay a third part of the human race. It may be that the army here described continues to fight until the time of the second coming of Christ, and the number slain is the total number involved in the conflict. [Note: Walvoord, pp. 166-167.]
Rev 9:17-19 describe the army and its tactics or method of war-fare. Quite clearly these are not ordinary horsemen or horses. Since this refers to a human army, it is probably best taken as symboli-cal of modern mechanical warfare. John has never seen tanks or armored vehicles, so he was given a vision of horsemen, as in his day--yet the vision went beyond his day and portrayed modern warfare. The fire, smoke, and brimstone could refer to any number of devices of modern warfare. Again in Rev 9:18 it is mentioned that one - third of mankind will be killed.
The Great Society of the Future ( Rev 9:20-21 )
Through humanism and a Christ-rejecting society, man has little to look forward to, specifically, the horrible conditions of these two verses. Here we see the harvest, the true results of humanism and the great society the world is seeking to develop--but apart from God and the Lord Jesus Christ. The following three points describe the character of this society and its people.
Rebelliously Unrepentant (Revelation 9:20 a)
"And the rest…who were not killed…did not repent." One would think by this time men would be crying out for mercy from God in deep repentance, especially since the world will know these all things that are happening are judgments from God (cf. Rev 6:14-17 ). But no, by now the rest of mankind has become confirmed in their rebellion and depraved ways through the hardening effect of continued negative volition to God.
Significantly, the things they will refuse to repent of are "the works of their own hands." This demonstrates the extreme humanistic nature of man that has always been evident, but especially in these last days. Men, as we see today, reject the works of God both in creation and in salvation. Man seeks to handle life by what he can do apart from God. But wasn’t this precisely the heart and nature of Satan’s temptation to Eve in Gen 3:1-24 ?
Religious, Demonic and Idolatrous (Revelation 9:20 b)
We should notice that this is a consequence of the refusal to repent. The translation of the NASV "So as not to" represents the conjunction hina , "in order that" and the negative particle me„ , "not." This may look at a negative purpose or intent, or a negative result or consequence. Theologically, however, both concepts, as mentioned previously, are often involved together. Men often refuse to come to Christ, even though salvation is by grace, because they want to continue to pursue their present lifestyle of sin. As our Lord teaches us in the Gospel of John:
Joh 3:19-21 And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.
Men ultimately reject Christ in order to pursue their own course. Ironically, such a purpose is not without its consequences--the consequences of greater and greater degeneration as Paul makes clear inRomans 1:18; Romans 1:18 ff. The consequences here in Rev 9:1-21 are two - fold, though tied together: (a) rampant demonism and (b) gross idolatry. Paul teaches us in 1 Cor-inthians 10:20 that behind all idolatry is demonism or the worship of demons.
There are basically four levels of demonic activity in the world today:
(1) Demon influence and temptation: In view of Satan’s constant activity through his demonic forces, all people face this to some degree (1 Peter 5:8 ; Ephesians 2:2 ; Ephesians 6:12-13 ; 1 Timothy 4:1 ; 2Ti 2:26 ).
(2) Demon Subjection or Control: This occurs through the lust patterns of the flesh and the many temptations found in the world which, of course, operates to a large degree under Satan’s control and influence. It is for this reason that he is called "the god of this world" (age) ( 2Co 4:4 ) and "the ruler of this world" (John 12:31 ; Joh 16:11 ). See also Eph 2:2 and 1 John 2:15-17 ; Mark 4:14-19 .
(3) Demon Harassment or Oppression: This involves direct demonic attack that often leads to severe harm mentally, emotionally, and physically. This is possibly the cause of Paul’s thorn in the flesh that he describes as "a messenger of Satan" mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:7 .
(4) Demon Possession: Demon possession is the condition where a demon (or demons) actually take up residence within the body of a person and not only controls the person, but uses their central nervous system and vocal cords. The gospels are filled with illustrations of this.
For more detailed information on this issue, see the bibliography at the end of this lesson.
The idols of gold and silver will probably include the whole gamut of materialism (cf. Ephesians 5:5 ; Col 3:5 ), but by this time it will be far beyond this into rank idol worship in the form of worship of the beast (cf. Rev 13:1-18 ).
The last phrase ofRevelation 9:21; Revelation 9:21 , "which can neither see nor hear nor talk," is stark irony to bring out the supreme foolishness of all forms of idolatry (see Psalms 115:3-8 ; Isaiah 44:9 f). Man’s idols, materialism included, are empty of capacity to meet his needs. Man’s idols are helpless nothings.
Morally Decadent ( Rev 9:21 )
Here we have the natural outcome of the preceding two characteristics of man at this time. God is holy, just, love, goodness, mercy and grace, etc. Demons are unholy, unjust, hateful, cruel, murderous, destructive, immoral, etc. When men reject God, the only thing left is the world of Satan. Today Satan’s ministers (servants) often take on the form of goodness, the form of light. But of course, this is only a smoke screen. In the Tribulation, how-ever, the true nature of Satan’s kingdom will surface. In Rev 9:21 John gives us four results that characterize men of Satan’s king-dom and of all men of the Tribulation.
first sin mentioned is murder . Note that the passage says "murders" (plural). Murder will be rampant. No one will think anything of killing another human being. The ‘law of the jungle’ will prevail. Unfortunately, we can see the nature of this in our own country today since we have left the absolutes of the Word of God. Currently, one of our judges is having to battle to keep a copy of the Ten Commandments on the wall of his court room.
second sin mentioned is sorcery . This is again plural. The Greek word is pharmakon, "a drug, incantation, enchantment." [Note: G. Abbott-Smith, A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, T. & T. Clark: Edinburgh, 1937, p. 466.] Our word pharmacy comes from this word group. The verb pharmakeuo„ means "to administer drugs." The word referred to magical arts, but the use of drugs is often a part of witchcraft or demonism. This suggests that drugs will be a big part of the Tribulation. In the Tribulation practically everyone will be on drugs and men will kill and steal to get them.
third sin mentioned is immorality . This is the Greek word porneia from which we get our word pornography. Porneia looks at sexual sins and perversions of every type.
fourth sin mentioned is thefts . This is the Greek word klemma , "a thing stolen," or "theft, stealing." This too is plural and draws our attention to the complete moral breakdown where men will lie, steal, cheat, and defraud at every turn.
I am convinced from Scripture that the church will not go into the Tribulation. I believer the Lord’s return for us is imminent and that we do not look for signs of His coming for the church. He could have come in John’s or Paul’s lifetime, and He could come for His bride today.
It would appear, however, that there are certain signs of the approach of the Tribulation in preparation for setting the stage for the events described in Revelation 6:1-17 ; Revelation 7:1-17 ; Revelation 8:1-13 ; Revelation 9:1-21 ; Revelation 10:1-11 ; Revelation 11:1-19 ; Revelation 12:1-17 ; Revelation 13:1-18 ; Revelation 14:1-20 ; Revelation 15:1-8 ; Revelation 16:1-21 ; Revelation 17:1-18 ; Revelation 18:1-24 ; Rev 19:1-21 and other prophetic passages. Surely we are seeing something of this today and the church could go through a great deal of persecution as the world grows worse and worse. Actually, many believers are undergoing tremendous suffering in various parts of the world already. May we continue to look up and pray, come quickly Lord Jesus.
Bibliography on Demonic Activity
________. Demon experiences in Many Lands , Moody Books, 1960. This is a compilation of reports of demonic experiences from missionaries from all over the world.
Koch, Kurt E., Christian Counseling and Occultism , Kregel Publication, 1972. This book includes a systematic investigation into occult phenomena with case histories.
Montgomery, John Warwick, Principalities and Powers , Bethany Fellowship, Inc., 1981.
Montgomery, John Warwick, Demon Possession , Bethany Fellowship, Inc., 1976. This book is a medical, historical, anthropological and theological symposium.
Nevius, John L., Demon Possession , Kregel Publications, 1968. This is considered a classic on this subject. It was first copyrighted in 1894 by Fleming H. Revell Co. Nevius was a Christian Missionary in China and experienced first hand contact with rampant demonic activity.
Pentecost, J. Dwight, Your Adversary the Devil , Zondervan Publishing House, 1972. This excellent book by a Dallas Theological Seminary professor is a complete biblical study of Satan from the standpoint of his character and activity from his fall to his ultimate destiny. Highly recommended for general background for the study of demonology.
Unger, Merrill F., Biblical Demonology , Scripture Press Publication, Inc., 1952. This is a solid biblical treatment and the first of two books on demonology by an OT Scholar who was a professor of Hebrew and OT Interpretation at Dallas Theological Seminary.
Unger, Merrill F., What Demons Can Do to Saints , Moody Press, 1977. In this book, due to the number of letters and responses from missionaries and others, Dr. Unger took a different position from his previous book on the question, "Can a believer be demon possessed." In this book, Unger makes a strong case for a yes answer.
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Keathley, J. Hampton. "Commentary on Revelation 9". "J. Hampton Keathley's Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28