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Church Victorious! Chapters 8–11 (Luke 18:7)
In this section of chapters, we again return to the First Coming of Christ. The Seals [of persecution] bring Trumpets [warning of Judgment] which bring Bowls [of judgment poured out]. Chapter 8 is God’s pledge of destruction on unbelievers. It shows God’s vengeance through the ages of time – by the medium of natural disasters. The first four Trumpets are sent by God as a warning! Notice that the Seals, Trumpets, Bowls of Wrath, and similar symbols, refer to Principles – of man’s conduct and God’s discipline – that are at work throughout history. The events symbolized by the Trumpets may be seen any day of the year in any part of the earth. Therefore, Trumpets are simultaneous with Seals.
I saw a star. The star is Satan (Luke 10:18 “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”). Which had fallen. The Devil rebelled against God, lost his holiness, his position in heaven, and his glory. Was given the key. In the vision John sees the authority to release the forces of evil given to Satan.
Opened the abyss. This is “hell” before the Judgment. After Judgment hell is the “lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14-15). Were made dark by the smoke. Satan opens the abyss and fills the world with demons and evil influence. The society of men is “darkened” by the moral and spiritual wickedness created through Satan’s influence.
Locusts came down. Compare Joel 1:7-12. Locusts look like a giant grasshopper. A swarm of locusts drops down out of the sky, like smoke, darkening the sun-light, falling on the farmer’s fields and quickly stripping every leaf off the growing plants. Locusts, then, symbolize destruction, grief, hopelessness, despair. Locusts are just the right symbol for John to use to describe the forces of evil which pour out from the abyss, bringing horror and destruction. This kind of locust does not harm the grass, or trees, or any plant. They can only harm those who do not have God’s seal. God’s people are sealed (Revelation 7:1-8), and have the promise: “he will not allow you to be tempted beyond your power to resist” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Not allowed to kill these men. God has placed a limitation on these evil spirits who operate in the hearts and lives of evil men and women. They are destructive, horribly so, yet they can torture, but not kill. The pain caused by their torture. The scorpion has a poisonous sting in its tail, and its sting is extremely painful, and sometimes fatal.
During the five months. Revelation 9:6-10 give a symbolic picture of these “locusts from the abyss.” Do not try to “pick apart” the symbol of the locusts [what is the separate meaning of the hair, teeth, breastplates, etc.], We look at these verses as a “whole” – a symbolic picture giving one central meaning. The details belong to the picture as a whole. What more frightening, horrible, and true picture could be painted, of the powers of evil at work in the world of men? Here are demons, stealing the light from those who do not know God [who do not want to know God]. They take away love and good will; joy and peace: common sense and knowledge. They cause mankind to bring terror and destruction upon each other. They bring political and social chaos [think of the Red Guards in China; the French Revolution, etc.,]. Man’s inhumanity to man is the source of incredible misery and suffering!
They have a king. Their king is the angel in charge of the abyss. His name is given in Hebrew and Greek – meaning “the Destroyer.” This entire symbolic picture shows one central idea: terror-panic-destruction! That is Satan’s work, [In view of this, think about what Paul wrote: “He rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us safe into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). See also Ephesians 6:12.]
The first honor is over. It is over in John’s vision. See Revelation 9:20-21.
Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet. As this angel blows, a voice is heard coming from the corners of the gold altar standing before God. In Revelation 8:3-4, we saw the incense and the prayers of God’s people go up from the altar to the Throne of God. Here, the answer to those prayers is spoken of as coming from the “corners of the gold altar.” God uses the work of the Devil to bring warning of judgment or warning judgments on wicked men.
Release the four angels. These are evil angels. Note they have been bound at the great river. [The four angels of Revelation 7:1 are good angels, who “stand at the four corners of the earth.”] As these evil angels are released, the same powers of evil that do the work of destruction in the hearts and lives of men, change these wicked men into devils (so to speak). In times of war, wicked people lose the thin veneer of morality and civilization [the atrocities of any war show this]. The sixth Trumpet paints a picture of war; not one specific war, but ALL WAR – past, present, and future. The four evil angels are pleased with the idea of plunging all mankind into war. Yet they cannot act unless God permits [they were bound]! Let us keep in mind, that in allowing them to be released, God uses even war as a voice calling for the wicked to repent (compare Revelation 9:20-21). [The Trumpets of Revelation 9:0 answer the question: “How can a loving God allow pain and suffering?” To the Christian who suffers in pain, this is a Seal (compare Revelation 7:2-3 note); but to the unbeliever, this pain and suffering is a Trumpet of warning!] The great river Euphrates. This symbolizes Assyria and Babylon, therefore, the entire wicked world.
The four angels were released. War is in God’s decree (even though it is Satan who actually brings it); and the hour, day, month, and year are fixed. These angels are allowed to kill one third of all mankind – horrible, yet limited. John sees in the vision the armies on the battlefield. There are so many troops he cannot count them, but he is told there are 200 million (a symbolic number); and these mounted troops and horses have but one purpose – to destroy! In the vision, the mounted troops and the horses work together so well, that the colors of the breastplates and the fire, smoke, and sulphur coming from the horses’ mouths, match each other. Fire, symbolic of destruction. Sapphire, symbolic of suffering. Sulphur, symbolic of torture. These symbolize the destructive machines of war, the bombs etc., the defoliating chemicals, poison gas, etc. – all the things which man uses to kill each other in battle.
The rest of mankind. From this we see that the general meaning of these six Trumpets is clear. During the period of time which began with Christ’s first Coming, and extends all the way to his Second Coming, our Lord Jesus Christ who is ruling all things as he is authorized by the Scroll of God’s Decree (Revelation 5:7), will again and again punish those who persecute his church, by allowing [inflicting] disasters on every part of their life – both physical and spiritual. [But disasters in the Christian’s life do not indicate punishment, as Jesus points out in Luke 13:1-5] Nor did those men repent. Man in general ignores the warning voices! Stubborn, foolish, man continues to violate the commandments of God by worshiping false gods (Revelation 9:20), and hating his fellow-man (Revelation 9:21). The un-repentance of mankind brings the Bowls of wrath poured out (chapters 15 & 16), and the final Day of Judgment. Delay is no longer possible!
These files are public domain.
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 9". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24