Saturday, 18 March 2017 19:22

57. The fifth trumpet: God is still in control * Revelation 9:1-12 - Part 1 of 4

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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.

   
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