As an example, the opening verse of chapter nine gives us information or a detail that has not been stated in previous chapters. This knowledge lets us know where God actually began His wrath, which was in heaven. Yet it is being described as the effects or results of the fifth trumpet. Clearly, It is the blending of the notes of this dirge from the trumpets of all seven angels together, which make up the beginning of Gods wrath. Nor does relating each trumpets effect mean that they are being described sequentially or that one trumpet is more important than another is. Nor does this mean that all of this takes place at the same instant in time. Rather, like any number played by a fine orchestra one instrument reinforces another and together the music progresses. In this case it is woeful music to Satan and those of his system.
So, with this understanding, let us find out what the sound of the fifth trumpet means.
The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss.
Obviously this star spoken of above is not a physical star like our sun. If that were the case the earth would be totally destroyed and it would be all over. Yet we know that stars are symbolic of angels or messengers. In fact, we have seen that God also equates Christians as stars, for they also deliver a message of light from the Almighty. Most Bible commentators equate this star in verse 1 of this chapter with an angel that had been sent by God to begin, or open up an abyss that would start the destruction on the earth. However, if we read this verse carefully we will see this is not the case. This angel has not been sent from heaven but has fallen from heaven. The key here is this star or angel "had fallen from the sky" Even though the wrath of God actually began in heaven with a spiritual battle, which is what the fifth trumpet is heralding the result of this brought about the casting out of Satan from heaven. More detail concerning this we will find in chapter 12. But for now
The great dragon was hurled down-- that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.(NIV)
This fallen angel, Satan, along with the demonic angels that followed him, is what Rev 9:1 is referring to. That Satan is given " the key to the shaft of the Abyss" means that he was allowed to do his worst but he has to do so from the abyss where he will be locked up for a period of a thousand years. Still, there is a short time of freedom left before God takes him out of the picture.
Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short."(NIV)
Notice the words, " woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! " Notice also this is the first of the three woes, we were told was coming in the last verse of chapter 8 in Revelation.
Now, that Satan is " filled with fury " is not only " because he knows that his time is short " but he knows that this abyss is where he will be locked away during the thousand year reign of Christ, which we will learn about in chapter 20. Let us take a peek at that chapter.
2. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.
3. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. (NIV)Nonetheless, Satan also knows that for now he is still free to vent his anger on the nations of the world, and he begins this by unlocking this abyss.
When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss.(NIV)
The sea, or the nations of the world, saw this darkening of the sky as gathering war clouds, spawned by greed for power, which formed rather rapidly in 1914 and a bit slower, but a whole lot larger, in the later part of the thirties. If one studied the causes and effect of these world wars in our century using history books, what is about to be shown here would become even clearer. But that would be too lengthy a subject for these pages and would take us far afield of the point of this study of Revelation. We will settle here for understanding how mans history relates to the Bible as stated in Revelation.
The Second World War actually had its began in Asia when the Empire of Japan marched against China. Still, only the family of God understood why this catastrophic war was forming on the horizon of the earth. True Christians realized that Satans own system was being set up to be used against him. Which added to this fallen angels rage because he knew there was nothing he could do to stop these events. These events, which were being pressed into fulfillment, by the four horsemen of the apocalypse, signaled the beginning of Satans end. Consequently his only desire is to take as many with him as he can. This is why Peter warned us
1 Pet 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:(KJV)
When these war clouds finally burst forth they rained death and destruction such as the earth had never seen before in the form of two world wars, which as has been said before, were not only in the eyes of God, but world historians as well, the same war.
And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth.(NIV)
The locusts being described in the above verse do not exist in reality and of course, they were never meant to mean anything other than a symbolic representation of events that were to take place on the earth.
Real locusts are grasshoppers, insects that can do no personal harm to a human. Their damage comes from the destruction they inflict on crops. Yet locusts are a perfect symbol of the effects of this trumpet because locust come in a black cloud consisting of millions of them. And when they land they swarm over huge areas of ground. Later in this chapter we will see these symbolic locusts represent the military might of nations.
In the late 1930s, Japans armies swarmed all over Asia and the Pacific. Germanys goose-stepping troops swarmed all over Europe while Italys brown-shirted army swarmed over Ethiopia in Africa. But these countries known to the world as the axis powers, were not in any way harmless to humans, such as the insect we know as locusts are. That is why these symbolic insects are described as having the power of a poisonous sting.
They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.(NIV)
If you are wondering who instructs these forces of evil as to what they can and cannot do, keep in mind the four horsemen, with the power of God behind them, who are in control of everything that takes place during this time. Also keep in mind that the four horsemen have been given power to kill only one quarter of the sea, or mankind. For that is the limit God will allow His wrath to take. This means they are not allowed to kill all of the sea only the twenty five percent stipulated by God. We will see this is so in verses within this chapter further down. Just the same, the next verse, which at face value seems a contradiction, actually conforms to the overall context of this chapter.
They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes a man.(NIV)
The five months spoken of above is relative to how God sees time, for God is dictating this whole thing. Pearl Harbor set off the final frenzy of nations around the whole world to declare war. Even Canada for the first time in its history declared war. The time from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the surrender of the Japanese Empire consumed five years.
Wars kill! That is the nature of the beast. That, "They were not given power to kill them " means they could not kill all of the sea of humanity, only the amount designated by God which we have been told of in earlier chapters. This is verified by verse 20 of this chapter in Revelation.
Again, the use of the word locust fits the symbolism of Revelation well. For locusts cannot kill humans but by destroying crops they contribute to starvation which is indeed a torture for mankind. Now people do die of starvation but most survive and that is what the above scripture is telling us would happen. Mankind in general would survive, but these strange symbolic locusts also have "the sting of a scorpion"
If you recall starvation also comes because of one of the horseman while another rider brings war with it, and a third that tolls the death of one quarter of the sea of mankind. Like the angels with the trumpets these horsemen symbolically ride together and their torture of mankind to accomplish Gods wrath is jointly administered.
A scorpions sting is not usually fatal but it is most painful and debilitating, which is exactly what that world war was to man in general. Amongst other things, It drained resources from the world. It drained finances from the world. It caused emotional scars in families that linger to this day. But it also took life in the form of manpower killed in combat. It took life in the form of civilians killed and displaced by the ravages of war. it killed with desease brouth on by the wars. It also extinguished the life of 12 million victims in concentration camps simply because they were undesirable according to vicious standards set up by the Nazis six million of them Jews. The dehumanization and atrocities perpetrated against people during that time by the Nazis is well documented and we will not go into it here. Except for one! And that only because it relates most dramatically to the next verse in Revelation.
During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.(NIV)
There is a big difference between suffering something that makes you wish you were dead and being in a position where you actually " seek death."
One of the atrocities committed against thousands of people in Nazi concentration camps was to strap victims to tables and amputate arms or legs, amongst other ghastly experiments, without anesthetic. This was done for the sole purpose of studying how much pain the human body could endure. These people that suffered this were deliberately kept alive, as long as possible, during this agony to further this so-called study.
(As a human being it is beyond my understanding as to why one person would want to do such a thing to another. As a Christian it is beyond all viable comprehension that such a thought would even enter a persons mind.)
Just the same it makes, " they will long to die, but death will elude them," easy to grasp!
Remember while these storm clouds of war were gathering for the world, there was a war actually being waged in Asia by Japan against the Chinese, even though it was not yet considered or understood as a world conflict by the general population of the globe we live on. Even so these strange locusts were preparing for just that, a worldwide catastrophe of military intensity.
The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces.(NIV)
If there was any doubt in your mind that God was using locusts to symbolize all this it should be dispelled by verse seven above. For the locusts we are familiar with bare no resemblance to horses nor do they have faces that remind one of a human being. As for the crowns! There are two kinds of crowns in the Bible: one is the crown of authority such as worn by a king, the other is the crown of triumph, which was what victorious gladiators were given. It is this crown of achievement or victory that Christians who overcome and are faithful to the end are promised.
However, the locusts in verse 7 are described as wearing " something like crowns of gold".
In the beginning of the Second World War the allies suffered defeat after defeat in what appeared at the time as an axis march that could not be stopped. As the axis perimeter of victories expanded they grew weaker while the Allies grew stronger. The locusts seemingly victorious crowns began to tarnish, fade and finally fell off in complete defeat. This is why the headgear the locusts are wearing is stated in the word as "something like crowns of gold".
Their hair was like women's hair, and their teeth were like lions' teeth.(NIV) We are suddenly told at this point that these locusts had hair, described as hair like a woman! Let us remind everyone that these insects are not real they simply represent the military might of the axis powers. The Bible describes the hair of a woman as being her glory. The epitome of a glorious German soldier by the axis powers was a blond blue eyed Arian. Even so a womans hair also marks these warriors as being unlike the warrior of any other time or age. That their teeth were like lions teeth belies any idea that their nature exhibited anything like a woman in kindness, love, compassion, or caring. A lions teeth are designed for ripping tearing and crushing. But having hair like a woman mainly tells us that the axis powers would prove to be the weaker of the two combating military forces. As it turned out, of course, this was so.
They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle.(NIV)
In ancient days soldiers dressed in iron breastplates signified that you were facing a well-equipped army. Japan, Germany and Italy had spent the intervening years of the armistice from the first war to prepare for the upcoming conflict between all the nations of the world, and prepared they were. "The sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle." The first and second world wars were the first time in history that air power was used as a military force. Interestingly, Joel also spoke of this time of the end. Lets note what he had to say about it.
The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:(KJV) There are millions of people that would testify that the earth does indeed quake from high explosives dropped from the sky. The sun and the moon being dark we have already spoken of but what about " the stars shall withdraw their shining:"
As we have already learned Christians are also referred to as stars because they deliver Gods light. But that light was dimmed by the onslaught of war. For it was very hard to speak of Gods love, mercy and justice to people, while bombs were falling on their heads. This was why Joel was saying to Gods family:
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand
2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come.
3. Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste-- nothing escapes them. (NIV)
Notice in verse 2 above that the day of darkness and the day of clouds and blackness are being used figuratively which is exactly the way Revelation is using these terms. In verse 3 the reference to the Garden of Eden is also obviously a figurative statement. The Word often uses metaphors quite liberally.
It has been observed by many that since the scriptures in Joel were for the house of Israel and since the war against the Jews was waged so ferociously by the nazi's that the parallel is too strong to ignore.
6. At the sight of them, nations are in anguish; every face turns pale. (NIV)
Even when the war news was of victories the toll of the dead brought anguish and torture to the families of those killed in battle. There was nothing that could be considered bright about those days and the darkness of night was made even darker by the blackouts required for defense from air attacks, while every hour of every day brought death and destruction. John makes this even clearer in the next verse of Revelation in which this portion of Rev 9 is summed up.
Rev 9:10They had tails and stings like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. (NIV)
The symbolic locusts John is writing about in this chapter were not as the locusts of reality that we are all familiar with, that simply do what their nature calls for. These locusts that symbolize warring nations had a leader!
Rev 9:11They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon. (NIV)
So that there would be no mistake as to who that leader of these symbolic locusts is, he is identified by name. Abaddon in Hebrew means angel. Appollyon in Greek means the devil. Satan is the fallen angel that was given the keys to the abyss.
Even the ancient prophets such as Isaiah knew that there would come a day for the beginning of the end of Satan. The following scripture is Isaiah speaking prophetically on this subject.
How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!(NIV)
Isaiah wrote the above over three thousand years ago and you and I are alive today to bear witness that it has occurred just as the Word said it would.
To understand the next verse in context with what has been said so far in this chapter we have to point out that in this chapter the locust are sounded from a trumpet that in time actually precedes the war. However, as has been said, the trumpets were sounded in concert and it is easy for us today to combine the results of both the pre war and war years because the notes of the fifth and sixth trumpet have already echoed through the universe. Just the same by combining the cause and effect of these trumpets we have been ignoring time. BUT time plays a very big part in all this. This is why John is saying in the next verse:
The first woe is past; two other woes are yet to come.(NIV)
In the next verse time is being brought into context, for it is time for the sixth angel to blend the notes of his trumpet into this concert of woe. Also as a reminder It should also be noted by all that, the conductor of these seven horns is the " Only Begotten Son of God" (John 3:16)
The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the horns of the golden altar that is before God.(NIV) John tells us he hears this voice giving directions to the sixth angel. The voice is not identified because in truth no identification is needed. For the whole host of heaven can recognize this voice instantly. It is the "voice" of Christ! Since you and I were not there to hear this voice John identifies it for us. He does this by stating that this voice is "coming from the horns of the golden altar" As we have learned in previous chapters, the horns of the altar represent salvation, which was sent to us from God but brought to us by Christ. This is why the word in Revelation spoke of Christ as the lamb with seven horns and seven eyes.
Rev 5:6And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. (KJV)
This is further verified by the words "that is before God" in other words the horns of the altar were in front of God. The voice of Christ therefore instructs the sixth trumpeter:
It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates."(NIV)
Remember the four angels who were first introduced to us as the four beasts, because they represent all things earthly and were holding back the four winds or actions of God concerning His wrath on the earth.
And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.(KJV) Well here they come! It should be clear to all that it is not the angels themselves that are doing these things but even though the locusts are lead by Satan the four angels control when the locust stop tormenting and start stinging. This is also why it is not wrong to combine the cause and effects of the pre war with the war itself concerning these symbolic locusts, for this chapter is doing exactly the same thing. But in this part of the chapter it is making a point of the fact that even though the angels with the trumpets to their lips are orchestrating this melody of woe together, the events are happening at pre ordained prescribed moments in time. Which verse 15 makes crystal clear.
And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind.(NIV)
Notice... "for this very hour and day and month and year"
The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. I heard their number.(NIV)
The number two hundred million is like all other numbers in Revelation symbolic. This number obviously represents a tremendously large number of armed men. It is meant to accent that armies this large had never been gathered together for such a war before.
To put this number in perspective, when the allies invaded France on D-day, there were 5000 warships involved in the invasion an armada of ships that the world had never seen or even dreamed of before and this was but one invasion.
Something else should be noted here. The combating forces have now been switched from symbolic locusts to symbolic troops making it clear this huge number of troops are human warriors, that are now actually engaged in combat. They are not insects that God is talking about. Nonetheless, what John is seeing is still very much symbolic which is obvious from the strange horses they are mounted on.
The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur.(NIV)
Now that the angels that were being held back by God had been released the actual war began. That there are only three verses that relate directly to the war itself is because the cause listed as the locust and the end result or effects of these locust are intertwined. That the heads of the horses resembled lions is a reference to the ferocity of a pride of lions as they eat. Their meals begin as a free for all, similar to sharks in a feeding frenzy. Lions often inflict severe injury on each other during a feeding.
A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths.(NIV)
Fire, smoke and sulfur are associated with total destruction throughout the bible and death itself has always been considered a plague on mankind. What is interesting here is that it is coming from their mouths, which is also specified in the next verse. We have already commented in chapter 8 of the difference between the twenty five percent of the deaths in the world caused by the four horsemen of the apocalypse and the total of one third being laid directly to doorstep of Satan.
The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.(NIV)
What is interesting about the wording of the power being from their mouths is the relationship to propaganda in which the Germans exceeded. In fact the big lie is a term credited to Gobbles the chief Nazi propagandist. He worked the German nation up constantly by repeating and repeating lies such as, the Arian race was the super race and all the problems in the world were caused by the Jews etc. It was these kind of propaganda lies that the German, and the Japanese in their own lies, that brought about the will by the people of these nations to fight a war to begin with.
Snakes in the Bible are usually associated with evil. The snake like tails, are related to the fact that the axis powers, in the end, caused as much destruction for there own kind as they did for others. As an example Russia who started out as an ally of the Axis had its own leader, Stalin, purge the USSR to the tune of executing 20 million of its own people. When it was obvious that the German nation could no longer even sustain the war let alone win, Hitlers high command pleaded with him to surrender before the nation was destroyed by the Allies. His answer was "if the people cannot win the war then they should die by it."
Yet, in spite of all this absolute madness, as we said in the opening comments on this chapter the world did not notice that all this destruction and mayhem came about because of their own actions related to God.
Rev 9:20The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood-- idols that cannot see or hear or walk. (NIV)
Crosses, statues, religious relics, holidays, are all idols. Oh no argue religions, we do not worship these things, they only represent our faith. To which we askWhat does one think an idol is? Nonetheless, at the risk of sounding redundant all this information about the the world wars that racked this globe in our age was written almost two thousand years ago in an era completely remote to our way of life today. Yet, for mankind nothing has changed nor has man learn from it all. They have not learned that God means what He says about Idolitry.
Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.(NIV) The verse above needs no explanation.
The gentile times Daniel spoke of were completed and the end times began, ushering in the beginning of the unrestricted rule of our Christ. Even with all the horrors the beginning of the tribulation brought, it started just as Jesus told us it would... "It came as a thief in the night." (2 Peter 3:10) Many, many millions were killed, millions more were butchered with less concern for them than is given to beasts in a slaughter house; still, mankind has not noticed the significance of any of it.. This too, is just as we were told it would be in the word.
2 Pet 3:3-4
of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and
following their own evil desires.
4 They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." (NIV)
2 Pet 3:5-6
5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water.
6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.
You might also note in verse 6 above that the world was destroyed... but the earth remained.
The earth will also still be here,when Gods wrath is completed.
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