Yochanan Eats the Scroll

Revelation 10:8-11
The End Times

In my last post, we explored Revelation 10:5-7 dealing with the No More Delays.  In this post, we continue the exploration of Revelation 10 by examining verses 8-11 on Yochanan Eats the Scroll.

“Next the voice which I had heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, “Go, take the scroll lying open in the hand of the angel standing on the sea and on the land!” 9 So I went over to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll; and he said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” 10 I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it; and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; but after I had swallowed it, my stomach turned bitter. 11 Then I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.” ~ Revelation 10:8-11 (CJB)

“Next the voice which I had heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, “Go, take the scroll lying open in the hand of the angel standing on the sea and on the land!”  Roy Hilton speaks concerning this scroll: [1]

What is this “little book?” It must undoubtedly be the book that was taken from the hand of God in chapter five. In chapter five the book is sealed, but here it is open. The word “open” is very emphatic showing it had at one time been closed. Since Christ qualified to take the sealed book from the hand of God and to loose the seals thereof we would expect it to be open when it is seen again in chapter ten. The broken seals and the opened book show again that Christ has qualified to take legal possession of land and sea, i.e., his creation.

So I went over to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll; and he said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” 10 I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it; and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; but after I had swallowed it, my stomach turned bitter. Yochanan is instructed to take the little scroll, which is the same scroll found in chapter five, and he is commanded to eat it. Yochanan is quick to obey the admonition to eat the scroll, and as he was told, its taste is as sweet as honey in his mouth, but in his belly, it becomes extremely bitter. There is nothing sweeter than the Good News of the Gospel of Yeshua. To those of us who are saved it is indeed sweet tasting manna from heaven. But, for those who refuse the message of God’s love, the redemption that can be theirs through faith in Yeshua, becomes the bitterness of hell itself. God’s Word cuts two ways! For those who believe the Good News of Redemption it is sweet, but for those who refuse, it is bitter judgment. Roy Hilton gives a further comment: [2]

The directions that the angel gave to John (Rev. 10:8-11) should remind us of our responsibility to assimilate the Word of God and make it a part of the inner man. It was not enough for John to see the book or even know its contents and purpose. He had to receive it into his inner being.

This is the first time that Yochanan is called upon to become directly involved with the action that is taking place. He now becomes a performer in the high drama of redemption. Yochanan is asked to assimilate the contents of this little scroll. Every witness knows that proclaiming the Word of God is indeed a bittersweet experience.

David Stern comments: [3]

On eating the scroll, compare Jeremiah 15:16, Ezekiel 2:8-3:3; also Psalms 19:11(10), 119:103 on its words’ being sweet as honey. On the bitterness, see Ezekiel 3:4-11; also compare Yeshua weeping over Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37-38, Luke 19:41) ~ there is no joy in preaching the wrath of God.

Then I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings. Yochanan is assured that he will not die on the Isle of Patmos, but will return to Ephesus. Through the writing of this great book of unfolding prophecy, the Book of Revelation, he proclaims God’s plan of redemption to the world.

The closing stage of Yochanan’s ministry is summarized in this verse. He learns that he must prophesy again. He is commissioned to carry the final warnings from God to men. These warning notes will constitute the remainder of the book. The prophecies to follow concern the judgments and the destinies of the men of earth in all their different racial, social, national and cultural distinctions.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 10:8-11 [4]

Historicist Approach:

Historicists believe the eating of the little scroll represents the church’s reception of the Bible at the time of the Reformation. For the first time, the Scriptures were available to the common man and printed in his own tongue.  It was sweet as honey in the mouths of those who received it.  The consequence of it becoming bitter in the stomach refers to the opposition and persecution raised by the Catholic Church against the Protestants.

Preterist Approach:

Preterists see this passage as an imitation of the same actions of Ezekiel’s prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BCE as recorded in Ezekiel 3:1-3, 14.

Futurist Approach:

Most Futurists concur with what I shared above by Hilton and Stern.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists view the little scroll as the Word of God recorded in chapter 11 or chapter 12 through 22 of Revelation. Some see the command to prophesy again to mean the rest of the Revelation leading up to the fall of Rome.

Summary of Chapters 8-10 [5]

This concludes the second cycle of sevens, except that the seventh shofar will not sound until 11:15.

Historicist Approach:

Historicists contend the first six shofar judgments are symbolic of the various foreign invasions against the Roman Empire through the fall of Constantinople in 1453 CE. The open scroll is the Bible, whose availability to the common people helped further the Reformation’s progress.

Preterist Approach:

Preterists position sees the shofars as associated with the Jewish War of 66-70 CE, culmination in the fall of Jerusalem.  The locusts probably refer to demons afflicting the besieged Jews, and the monstrous horses represent the Roman armies.

Futurist Approach:

Futurists concluded from these chapters that during the Tribulation period, judgments of an unprecedented sort would be sent to humanity.  If literal, these judgments will be devastation to nature and catastrophically disruptive of civilization.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists view the disasters represented by the shofars as the recurring ways in which God judges sinful humanity. They are meant as warnings to induce repentance.  The fulfillment is found throughout the church age.

In my next post, we will explore How Are We to Understand the Period of the 1,260 Days and When Does it Occur?

Click here for PDF version.

[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

[4] Material in this section is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. The notations in parenthesis are my comments.

[5] Ibid.

No More Delay

Revelation 10:5-7
The End Times

In my last post, we explored Revelation 10:1-4 dealing with the Little Scroll and Seven Thunders.  In this post, we continue the exploration of Revelation 10 by examining verses 5-7 on the issue of No More Delay.

“Then the angel I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted his right hand toward heaven 6 and swore by the One who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it: “There will be no more delay; 7 on the contrary, in the days of the sound from the seventh angel when he sounds his shofar, the hidden plan of God will be brought to completion, the Good News as he proclaimed it to his servants the prophets.” ~ Revelation 10:5-7 (CJB)

“Then the angel I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted his right hand toward heaven 6 and swore by the One who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it: “There will be no more delay….”  In my last post, I indicated my belief that this angel is none other than Yeshua Himself. His stance is that of an avenging conqueror declaring ownership of that which rightfully belongs to Him. It is a graphic depiction of Yeshua taking possession of the inheritance promised Him by His Father (Psalms 2:6-9).

“…on the contrary, in the days of the sound from the seventh angel when he sounds his shofar, the hidden plan of God will be brought to completion, the Good News as he proclaimed it to his servants the prophets.”  Yochanan is told that when the seventh shofar angel begins to sound that God will very quickly conclude the hidden plan of God that has been meticulously unfolding for several chapters. What is this mystery? Scripture makes mention of many mysteries (see Ephesians 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:7; 1 Timothy 3:16; Colossians 2:2; Romans 11:25; Revelation 1:20; 17:7). Nevertheless, this would seem to be yet another mystery. The hidden plan of God is the Good News, the Besorah. It includes both judgment, as described in the book of Revelation, and the overall outworking of history, including the salvation of the Jewish people and of others who come to faith. God proclaimed it to his servants the prophets.  This phrase echoes Daniel 9:6: “We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our leaders, our ancestors and to all the people of the land,” even though, since they lived centuries earlier, they did not fully understand it (see also Daniel 12:8ff.).

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 10:5-7 [1]

Historicist Approach:

Historicists contend that as the Jews had been given centuries to repent of their rebellion against God, so the apostate papal church had been given centuries to end its ways and return to God.  The ministry of Yeshua and His emissaries represented the last opportunity for the Jewish nation to repent before its destruction in 70 CE. With the announcement that there will be no more delay, the papal church was being given its final opportunity to return to God before coming under divine judgment.  This opportunity was embodied in the Reformation.

Preterist Approach:

Preterists believe that the hidden plan of God refers to the fact that the predominately Jewish nature of the church was ended by the destruction of the Temple.  Gentiles would come into the church on an equal footing with the Jews, not first by becoming Jews themselves.

Futurist Approach:

Most Futurists concur the hidden plan of God refers to God allowing Satan to have his way on earth.  He had been permitted to be the god of this age deceiving the nations and now the time has come when the mystery of God will be completed.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists view the hidden plan of God as Sha’ul describes in Colossians 2:2. Romans 16:25, and Ephesians 3:3-6.

In my next post, we continue to explore Revelation 10We will unpack Revelation 10:8-11 where Yochanan Eats the Scroll.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] Material in this section is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. The notations in parenthesis are my comments.

The Little Scroll and Seven Thunders

Revelation 10:1-4
The End Times

In my last post, we concluded the exploration of Revelation 9:20-21 dealing with the No Repentance.  In this post, we begin our exploration of Revelation 10 by examining verses 1-4 on the Little Scroll and Seven Thunders.

Next, I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was dressed in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head; his face was like the sun, his legs like columns of fire; 2 and he had a little scroll lying open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, 3 and shouted in a voice as loud as the roar of a lion; and when he shouted, seven thunderclaps sounded with voices that spoke. 4 When the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up the things the seven thunders said, do not write them down!” ~ Revelation 10:1-4 (CJB)

The tenth chapter of Revelation introduces the reader a new section of this book of prophecy. Five chapters are inserted between the recorded action of the first half of the tribulation and the last half of the tribulation. It is as if the curtain has closed on the first half of this drama. Now events and people and nations are provided with supplementary identification which is necessary for Yochanan to grasp a fuller understanding of this intense vision he is experiencing.

The action appears to occur as if it stopped in time. Yochanan is now on earth, and the narration will move from one event to another, from one person to another, but do not look for chronological order, as Yochanan is receiving random missing pieces of the puzzle which will result in a fuller revelation of a particular portion of the picture.

Chapter Ten is one of the most encouraging, spirit-lifting, mind-settling passages in the Bible. If ever there is a doubt about exactly how world events are going are resolved in the end time, this chapter should settle that uncertainty.

Next, I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was dressed in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head; his face was like the sun, his legs like columns of fire.  Opinion seems to vary as to the identity of this mighty angel. There is no question but that angels differ as to rank, position, responsibility and even power. However, I believe that this mighty angel is Yeshua.

The first hint as to His true identity is found in the statement, dressed in a cloud. In the majority of times that clouds are mentioned in Scripture, they are identified with the presence of God (Exodus 24:15; Psalm 104:3; Acts 1:9; Revelation 1:7, etc.). Regarding the identity of this mighty angel, there is another phrase included in the text that seems to indicate that it is the Lord. That phrase is, with a rainbow over his head. The rainbow unquestionably associated with God. It reminds us of a promise He made not to destroy the world a second time with a flood (Genesis 9:13-17). The rainbow may be included in this verse as a reminder to the reader that the promises of God are true and continue to be in effect. Read again Revelation 4:3 and observe that as the throne of God appears, it is circled about by a rainbow.

In Revelation 10:1 there are two additional revealing statements that help to identify this mighty angel. He is described as; his face was like the sun, his legs like columns of fire. Revelation 1:15-16 relates a similar description of our Lord.

he had a little scroll lying open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land This scroll is similar to the one described in Revelation 5:5 in which Yeshua is found to be the only one worthy to open the scroll. Now, in Revelation 10:2 the book is reported to be open. Yeshua is ready to repossess the whole earth. The picture is of One who is prepared to take charge! He is standing in complete control with His right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land.

“… and shouted in a voice as loud as the roar of a lion; and when he shouted, seven thunderclaps sounded with voices that spoke. This special appearance of Yeshua allows Yochanan a preview of how the tribulation period is going to terminate. Yochanan has already viewed the first half of the tribulation, during which judgment upon judgment has fallen upon the earth. Satan’s power and the work of the Antichrist seem to continue to be in charge. Satan continues to demonstrate his tremendous supply of power. Therefore, Yochanan is given a glimpse of the power of Yeshua to settle any doubt as to how this contest between Satan and God will be ultimately resolved.

When the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up the things the seven thunders said, do not write them down!”  Here is a part of the Revelation that we are not allowed to see. Somewhat like what the Lord told Daniel (Daniel 12:9). Clarence Larkin writes: [1]

When the “MIGHTY ANGEL” cried with a loud voice, John heard “SEVEN THUNDERS” utter their voices. These “THUNDERS” spoke, for John heard what they said, and as he had been commanded to write what he should see and hear, he proceeded to write what the “voices” of the “SEVEN THUNDERS” uttered, but he was told to “seal up those things which the SEVEN THUNDERS uttered, and write them not.” What they said has never as yet been revealed, but doubtless will be when the time comes to make the revelation.

Stern opines the seven thunders are aspects of divine wrath which God orders concealed and not revealed. Sha’ul mentioned a similar experience at 2 Corinthians 12:3-4 and Daniel did as well in Daniel 12:9. [2]

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 10:1-4 [3]

Historicist Approach:

Historicists believe, although this is the first mention in Revelation, the power of the papacy became incredibly corrupt.  The little scroll is the Bible which before the Reformation was confined to a few inaccessible copies written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.  The prophecies of chapters 10 and 11:1-15 are about the Reformation period in the early sixteenth century.

Preterist Approach:

Preterists concur that the mighty angel is Yeshua while disagreeing as to the description of the little scroll. Some see it as the same scroll in chapter five now completely opened and others as a separate prophecy containing the contents of chapters thirteen to nineteen.  The seven thunders are seen as the voice of Adonai as depicted in Psalm 29.

Futurist Approach:

Most Futurists concur that the mighty angel is Yeshua while disagreeing as to the description of the little scroll.  The views range from the written authorization given to an angel to fulfill his mission; a message to the believing church as found in Revelation 11:1-13; or the prophecies in Tanakh relating to the End Times. As to the seven thunders, Ironside offers an interesting explanation that they speak of judgment that Yeshua has already accepted the punishment and we need not know the dreadful secrets of our sins.

Idealist Approach:

 Some Idealists view the mighty angel as Yeshua while others say that the use of another means a special angelic envoy.  They agree with the Preterists as to the seven thunders.

In my next post, we continue to explore Revelation 10We will unpack Revelation 10:5-7 on the issue of No More Delay.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

[2] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David H. Stern.

[3] Material in this section is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. The notations in parenthesis are my comments.

No Repentance

Revelation 9:20-21
The End Times

In my last post, we began to explore Revelation 9:16-19 dealing with the Description of the Army.  In this post, we will conclude our exploration of Revelation 9 by examining verses 20-21 on the No Repentance.

“The rest of mankind, those who were not killed by these plagues, even then did not turn from what they had made with their own hands – they did not stop worshipping demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk. 21Nor did they turn [repent]from their murdering, their involvement with the occult and with drugs, their sexual immorality or their stealing. ~ Revelation 9:20-21 (CJB)

Continuing with Yochanan’s vision with half of humanity destroyed, all this has no effect on the survivors.  As the locusts in Joel 2:4-10 were intended to bring about repentance (Joel 2:11-14); likewise here, but the people refused.

Judgment in the early stages can lead to fear and terror (Revelation 6:16-17) but, when the hardening process reaches a certain point it provokes blasphemy (Revelation 16:8-10).  Perhaps this is the decisive point in the lives of many, the moment when they deliberately refused the last overtures of grace and threw in their lot finally with the beast. The idolatry (v. 20) and the immorality (v. 21) of their society was too much a part of their lives to allow them to see sin from God’s viewpoint that they might turn to the Lamb.

Even today we see a foreshadowing of that time, as false religions and cults are sweeping the globe like a tidal wave. This false religion not only condones but advocates the four big sins that are on the increase in today’s world.

  1. Murder. The crime of murder is increasing all over the world, not only by gangsters and terrorist but by fathers, mothers, teenagers and even children. Violence is indeed filling the earth. Where there is no godly influence, human life is cheap. People today are getting conditioned to the taking of life by such acts as abortion and euthanasia. Murder will be so common during the tribulation period that it will be left up to the individual to protect his family, his property and his very life.
  1. Involvement with the occult and with drugs. The word for sorcery in the Greek language is pharmakeion from which we get our word “pharmacy.” Drug use will continue to increase and be one of the major problems in the end time. Greek pharmakeia, usually translated “sorceries,” “witchcraft” or “magic arts,” is here rendered by this longer phrase to focus on the fact that using potions and drugs is an essential part of the word’s meaning – as is clear from the derived English words “pharmaceuticals” and “pharmacy.” The usual renderings suggest to many people a setting so removed from the fabric of their lives that the text does not speak to them.

Spiritually speaking, there are four distinct categories of drug misuse: (1) taking drugs to explore spiritual realms, (2) taking drugs to engage in “sorcery, witchcraft and magic arts” while under their influence, (3) giving drugs to other people in order to gain control over them, which is another form of “sorcery, witchcraft and magic arts,” and (4) taking drugs for pleasure. The last is a misuse because the drugs in question – besides whatever temporary enjoyment they provide, and apart from their adverse medical and psychological effects – open a person to supernatural or spiritual experiences; but these experiences are almost always demonic and not from God, since the Holy One of Israel reveals himself through his Word (Romans 1:16-17, 10:8-17), not through drugs.

So much for the Bad News. The Good News is that when a pride-filled, weak-willed, uncaring, despairing drug-user trusts Yeshua the Messiah, God can turn him into a person of faith and right action.

  1. Sexual immorality. One has only to look around to see how sex mad our world has become and how a continuing moral decline will play a role in that day.
  2. Stealing. With the absence of character and integrity; dishonesty, trickery, and irresponsibility become the norm for all relationships. A person’s word means nothing as contracts are broken at will. The thinking is to obtain whatever one wants no matter who may get hurt in the process.
Special Comparative Note on Chapter 9:20-21 [1]

Historicist Approach:

Historicists view these verses as speaking of the apostate Latin and Greek churches, particularly applicable to the papal church.

Preterist Approach:

Preterists view this applying to the Jews shortly prior to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE.  It seems God had given them over to a debased mind, so repentance was no longer among their option.  (Given the repeated call of repentance by Jeremiah before the subsequent Babylonian exile and the exponential growth of the Messianic community before the fall, it is impossible for me to accept their interpretation.)

Futurist Approach:

Futurists view these verses as an informative glimpse into the religious and moral conditions curing the Tribulation.  (In our society today, murder [including abortion], involvement with the occult and drugs, sexual immorality and basic decency are daily headlines.)

Idealist Approach:

Idealists view the seven shofars as warning intended to bring men to repentance, and they intensify as the end approaches, but they fail to produce the desired results as hearts are hardened.

In my next post, we will begin to explore Revelation 10We will unpack Revelation 10:1-4 on the issue of The Little Scroll and Seven Thunders.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] Material in this section is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. The notations in parenthesis are my comments.

Description of the Army

Revelation 9:16 -19
The End Times

In my last post, we began to explore Revelation 9:13-15 dealing with the Sixth Shofar.  In this post, we will continue to explore Revelation 9:16-19 on the Description of the Army.

“… and the number of cavalry soldiers was two hundred million! — I heard the number. Here is how the horses looked in the vision: the riders had breastplates that were fire-red, iris-blue and sulfur-yellow; the horses’ heads were like lions’ heads; and from their mouths issued fire, smoke and sulfur. It was these three plagues that killed a third of mankind — the fire, smoke and sulfur issuing from the horses’ mouths. For the power of the horses was in their mouths — and also in their tails, for their tails were like snakes with heads, and with them they could cause injury.”~ Revelation 9:16-19 (CJB)

 Oliver Greene writes: [1]

And what a description! The riders of the horses had breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone. The riders undoubtedly will be super-human, and probably demented… a great army of demons out of hell. The heads of the horses were as the heads of lions (the lion is king of the beasts). The riders are mounted upon horses that cannot be stopped, cannot be conquered. Out of the mouths of the horses issue, fire, smoke and brimstone! Verse 18 further describes them by saying, “by these three” (fire, smoke and brimstone) one-third of all men shall be killed. The army of locusts did not kill men—they only tormented them. But this army leaves one-third of earth’s population dead.

As I mentioned in my last post, a possible explanation of the identity of this massive army could be a military force, such as China. That giant nation can easily put together an army of two hundred million soldiers. They also can move across the continent to the middle-east.

The number of these cavalry soldiers is truly astounding. It is not a human estimate but, a divinely-communicated count. While beyond our understanding, is the divine count of an invading force from the east.

We have confronted again the same interpretative problem faced with these horses as arose with the locusts ~ the relationship between what is symbolic and what is literal. The symbols must be interpreted within the context of scripture and within their cultural background. To read modern weaponry into the expressions is to tread on the shifting sand of technology which changes from age to age. The main emphasis in the vision is manifestly the horses. The horse in scripture is ever the symbol of natural strength (Job 39:19) and natural speed (Psalm 33:17). This strength and speed need a controlling hand (Psalm 32:9) if it is to be usefully employed. It is not surprising that when men rebel against God, they should use the horse in military action against their fellows. In Scripture, the horse is almost always linked with warfare. (The one exception to this rule is found in Isaiah 28:28.)

Here is how the horses looked in the vision: the riders had breastplates that were fire-red, iris-blue and sulfur-yellow; the horses’ heads were like lions’ heads; and from their mouths issued fire, smoke and sulfur. That the horses are symbolic is clear from the description given. Even cross-breeding and genetic engineering will hardly produce a horse with the head of a fire-breathing lion. Based on the most recent data, the entire horse population of earth is 58 million; it would require a huge population explosion amongst horses to produce two hundred million! Any idea that warfare in the future will revert to cavalry charges is simply imagination. The symbol depicts the natural strength of nations harnessed militarily to put on the battlefield the mightiest invasion earth has ever seen.

The symbolic nature of the horses is clear by the fact that Yochanan sees their heads like lions’ heads. This symbol allies the strength of the horse with the sovereignty of the lion, the king of beasts. The teeth of the lion (Revelation 9:8) spoke of ferocity; here the head indicates a claim to the majesty that would defy the King of kings. This army is Satan’s great attempt to deny to Yeshua the sovereignty of earth. The mouth speaks of the ravenous appetite of the Lion (Daniel 6:21; 1 Kefa 5:8), and it is fitting that these symbolic lions should spew forth fire and smoke and sulfur.  “Adonai caused sulfur and fire to rain down upon S’dom and ‘Amora from Adonai out of the sky” Genesis 19:24 (CJB). The symbol describes the offensive weaponry that wreaks havoc amongst men. It is futile to attempt to identify these with different kinds of weapons whether conventional artillery or tactical nuclear weapons. What God rained on Sodom and Gomorrah in righteous judgment Satan copies in his forces. The carnage on earth is unimaginable.

It was these three plagues that killed a third of mankind — the fire, smoke and sulfur issuing from the horses’ mouths. For the power of the horses was in their mouths — and also in their tails, for their tails were like snakes with heads, and with them they could cause injury. The repetition of the death-toll from this satanically inspired invasion from across the Euphrates river re-emphasizes the awful carnage that results. The mention again of the fire and smoke and sulfur lays new stress on the death-dealing weaponry that is used by this invading army. That the massacre occurs by the mouths of these lion-headed horses gives added significance to the fact that the invasion wreaks immediate destruction as soon as it strikes. The colossal numbers of this mighty army and the character of their terrible weapons bring appalling death and destruction. Under the fifth trumpet men sought death and could not find it; now they have trouble escaping from it.

As Yochanan had no point of reference in describing modern war weapons, he used the first-century knowledge he had. A full-scale nuclear war could easily account for one-third of the world’s population being killed. Whatever one’s interpretation at this point, the results are the same. The death toll staggers the imagination.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 9:16-19 [2]

Historicist Approach:

According to Historicists, the term two hundred million can be translated as “two myriad myriads” which can refer to an indefinite number. (This is supported by Strong’s Greek Dictionary.)  That interpretation supports their position that this refers to the Turks who used myriads to number their troops.  The Turks also had breastplates for their horses similar to that described in this passage.  They also credit the Turks with artillery that could produce fire, smoke and sulfur.

Preterist Approach:

Preterists don’t believe the two hundred million is a literal number. (Remember, that they believe that this incident refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.  It’s doubtful that Rome could muster 200 hundred million soldiers.)

Futurist Approach:

Among Futurists, there are two main camps concerning the identification of theses bizarre cavalry soldiers.  First, they are demonic spirits.  Secondly, they are a literal army described in figurative language probably from the Orient.  The three plagues that killed a third of mankind can certainly be linked to modern warfare technology.  Lindsey, of course, compares it to thermonuclear war.

Idealist Approach:

Some Idealists believe that the Fifth and Sixth Shofars are related in that the former describes the internal corruption of a wicked culture and the latter tells of external forces that bring down such a decayed society.  A commonly held position contrasts the locust invasion of the previous woe with this onslaught of horses. The former unleashed spiritual armies of demons against the wicked; the latter brought physical, human armies as a punishment and warning upon rebellious humankind.  The number two hundred million should not be understood literally.

In my next post, we will continue to unpack Revelation 9We will unpack Revelation 9:20-21 on the issue of No Repentance.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

[2] Material in this section is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. The notations in parenthesis are my comments.

The Sixth Shofar

Revelation 9:13-15
The End Times

In my last post, we began to explore Revelation 9:7-12 dealing with the Description of the Locusts.  In this post, we will continue exploring Revelation 9:13-15 and the blowing of the Sixth Shofar.

 The Sixth Shofar ~ The Second Woe

 The sixth angel sounded his shofar, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the gold altar before God, saying to the sixth angel, the one with the shofar, “Release the four angels that are bound at the great river Euphrates!” And they were released. These four angels had been kept ready for this moment, for this day and month and year, to kill a third of mankind. ~ Revelation 9:13-15 (CJB)

The second woe will bring more than just torment ~ it will kill one-third of humanity. Instead of demon locusts, four fallen angels are unleashed from the ties that bind them at the Euphrates River. They were loosed for this day, month, and year, which appears to mean the exact appointed time. Under the fourth seal, one-fourth of all people died (Revelation 6:4); now one-third of those left are killed, leaving approximately only half of the world’s population.

Half of the world’s population is eliminated, and it is only half way through the tribulation!  With each passing day, the words of the prophet Isaiah and others are coming together like the pieces of a great puzzle!  “Look! Adonai is stripping and destroying the land, turning it upside down and scattering its inhabitants …The land will be completely stripped, completely plundered, for Adonai has spoken this word…The land lies defiled under its inhabitants; because they have transgressed the teachings, changed the law and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore, a curse is devouring the land, and its inhabitants are punished for their guilt.  It is why those living there waste away, and the people left are few.” ~ Isaiah 24:1,3,5-6 (CJB).

The sixth angel sounded his shofar, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the gold altar before God.  Finis Dake writes about this: [1]

The voice here may be the voice of an angel of heaven to whom it is given to cry this command to the sixth trumpet angel … Such unidentified voices are common to this book, 5:2; 7:2; 8:13; 14:7, 8, 9, 15; 18:2, 17. Besides these which are voices of angels, there are many others spoken of in the book without reference to the nature of the one who speaks, Rev. 6:6; 10:4, 8; 11:2; 12:10; 14:13; 16:1, 17; 18:4; 19:5; 21:3. Still other voices are those of Christ, etc., as is clear in the passages themselves, Rev. 1:10-15; 3:20; 4:1; 5:11, 12; 6:7, 10; 7:10; 10:3 with 11:3; 14:2-5; 19:1-6. Blood upon the horns of the altar in the earthly tabernacle spoke of mercy to those who had sinned in ignorance (Lev. 4), but here mercy has been changed to judgment because of willful ignorance and rejection of Christ and the truth.

Saying to the sixth angel, the one with the shofar, “Release the four angels that are bound at the great river Euphrates!” And they were released. These four angels had been kept ready for this moment, for this day and month and year, to kill a third of mankind. The expression this day and month and year does not denote some duration of time, but rather an exact time that God has appointed for this event to happen.

The great river Euphrates is some 1,780 miles long. The Nile River and the Euphrates form the boundaries of the land promised to Abraham, which God gave to him for an everlasting possession (Genesis 15:18). It is in this area that we find the dawn of civilization. It is here we find the location of the Garden of Eden; it is in this vicinity that Adam and Eve and the first family lived. It is here the first murder was committed; the first lie told, and the first death ended an earthly life. It is in this place that sin entered God’s perfect creation.

Historically, the Euphrates protected Israel and the Middle-Eastern nations from the empires further to the east, and very particularly from mighty Assyria. This river marked the eastern border of the Roman Empire. Many of the great cities of ancient times, including Sippar and Babylon, lay on the river. Since the days of those great civilizations, the course of the river has shifted so that now it runs some four miles to the west of the ruins of these cities. It was from across the Euphrates that many of the ancient enemies of Israel invaded the land (Jeremiah 2:18; 13:4-5; 51:63).

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 9:13-15 [2]

Historicist Approach:

Most Historicists view a third of mankind to reside in the eastern portion of Roman Empire, which later becomes the Byzantine Empire with its capital in Constantinople.  Shortly before 1000 CE, the Tartars moved from the area of the Caspian Sea to new settlements on the eastern banks of the Euphrates River.  In 1055, the Turks, as they came to be called, conquered Baghdad.  The Turks expanded west of the Euphrates and assaulted the Byzantine Empire.  In 1453 CE, the Turks ~ by this time known as the Ottoman Empire ~ conquered Constantinople, bringing to an end the last vestige of the Roman Empire in the east.

As to the day, month and year, they believe that they need to be calculated together based upon assigned values for each.  There is a divided consensus on the values and the formulas based upon which calendar is used (Jewish or Roman) to justify their position that these events have already occurred.

Preterist Approach:

Preterists view the destruction of a third of mankind and the timing coincide with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 CE by the hordes of Roman soldiers.  They seem to rely heavily on Yeshua’s prediction as recorded in Luke 21.

Futurist Approach:

Futurists believe the invasion coming from the east will be from the Orient. As we will learn in my next post, China is more than capable of fielding a 200,000,000-invasion force.  The day, month and year do not refer to the duration of their carnage but to the fact that this judgment comes exactly at the time ordained by the Father.

Idealist Approach:

According to some Idealists, the sixth shofar and the sixth bowl judgments (Revelation 16:12) refer to “the same event from different points of view.”  The timing is prescribed by God.

In my next post, we will continue to unpack Revelation 9We will then return to Revelation 9:16-19 on the Description of the Avenging Army.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

[2] Material in this section is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg

Description of the Locusts

Revelation 9:7-12
The End Times

In my last post, we concluded our exploration of the blowing of the Fifth Shofar.  In this post, we continue exploring Revelation 9:7-12 by examining the Description of the Locusts in the Fifth Shofar.

“Now these locusts looked like horses outfitted for battle. On their heads were what looked like crowns of gold, and their faces were like human faces. 8 They had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like those of lions.  9 Their chests were like iron breastplates, and the sound their wings made was like the roar of many horses and chariots rushing into battle.  10 They had tails like those of scorpions, with stings; and in their tails was their power to hurt people for five months.  11 They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is “Abaddon” and in our language, “Destroyer.”  12 The first woe has passed, but there are still two woes to come. ~ Revelation 9:7-12 (CJB)

If my memory serves me correctly, Hal Lindsey in “Late Great Planet Earth” interpreted Yochanan’s vision of the locusts as Apache Helicopters.  That certainly made sense to me.  We’ll see in a moment what others have said about them.


Image courtesy of Google

How would you describe these demon creatures if you were in Yochanan’s place?  Yochanan sees the resemblance of several different kinds of animals: horses, men, lions and scorpions.  The horse depicts power; men denote intelligence; the lion is a statement of deadliness and the scorpion symbolizes the pain inflicted.

While the language is obviously figurative the images he uses must not be spiritualized into generalities.  The images convey pictures of terrifying reality.  The similarities between this locust invasion and the literal locust invasion of Judah in the days of Joel 2:4-5 are instructive.  For the prophet, locusts and armies have an analogous appearance, movement, and sound; both are used by him to capture the presence of the ultimate powerful army.


Image courtesy of Google

Eight features are identified: [1]

  1. Their shapes ~ like horses outfitted for battle. Both ancient and more modern writers find the head of a horse a suitable picture of the head of the locust.  We can see a resemblance in the shell-like scales of locusts and the metal (or leather) protective plates commonly placed over the horses’ flanks when outfitted for battle.


Image courtesy of Google

  1. Their heads ~ on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold. Appendages of some kind, resembling crowns, glittered like gold around their heads. While pretended dignity or royalty may be involved, the specific use of crowns points to victory.
  2. Their faces ~ their faces were like human faces. These spirit-beings, described as locusts, seen with the faces of men is perhaps their most terrifying feature.  This suggests a claim to intelligence but with malignancy and cruelty adding terror to the picture; their authority is a usurped and harmful domination of mankind.  Features of man, beast and insect are linked in diabolical association.
  3. Their hair ~ like women’s hair. The long flowing hair of these creatures reminds Yochanan of a characteristic feature of womanhood (1 Corinthians 11:15).  The two short antennae of the normal locust would hardly give rise to this feature but the abundance of womanly hair may indicate effeminacy.
  4. Their teeth ~ their teeth were like those of lions.  This recalls Joel 1:6: For a mighty and numberless nation has invaded my land.  His teeth are lion’s teeth; his fangs are those of a lioness.  The carnivorous appearance invokes the idea of terrifying ferocity yet these demon-locusts inflict their hurt not with their teeth but with their tails.
  5. Their chests ~ their chests were like iron breastplates. These “plates of iron” protect the vital organs and suggest impregnability.  No weapon can penetrate this armor to destroy these locusts.
  6. Their wings ~ the sound their wings made was like the roar of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. This recalls Joel 2:5 and describes the thunder of a charging army that strikes terror even before the battle is joined.  Such an armored charge would be irresistible – nothing can stand in its path.  Many of us can easily detect the noise of one helicopter flying overhead.  If it were many, the noise would be deafening.
  7. Their tails ~ they had tails like those of scorpions. The most repulsive member of the spider family, the scorpion has scarcely a redeeming feature. When its claws fasten on to its victim the tail curves back with frightening speed, its needle-like point penetrates the skin and injects the poison.  The picture is one of cruel and relentless irritability.

Viewed from head to tail the physical description is terrifying but recognizing that they are supernatural in origin and released under satanic direction to bring such terrible pain that victims would find death a relief, adds a further dimension to their terror.  God is allowing the spirit-world of demons to be seen in its true character.  Now men will reap what they have sown and bitter anguish will result.  This trumpet shows evil powers in their true colors.


Locust Swarm in Madagascar courtesy of Google

They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is “Abaddon” and in our language, “Destroyer.”  It is noteworthy to point out that real locust don’t have kings over them (Proverbs 30:27).  This king is further identified by two additional names.  The name Abaddon in Hebrew means destroying angel and the name Apollyon [2] means destroyer. These names are used to further reveal the character of this king of locusts, and they identify him as the fallen angel who is Lucifer, the devil himself.

The first woe has passed, but there are still two woes to come.  As bad as things are, there is still additional judgment to fall.  If suddenly all law enforcement agents were removed from society and crime could go unchecked, the situation would still not be as terrible as the one playing out in this passage of Scripture.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 9:7-12 [3]

Historicist Approach:

Historicists liken the locusts to the Islamic hordes (see Judges 6:5).  Islamic tradition speaks of locusts having dropped into the hands of Mohammed, bearing on their wings this inscription: “We are the army of the Great God.”   The crowns as seen as turbans; the hair like women’s hair is typical of bearded, long-haired Muslim men and Jews; the iron breastplates are literal.  These warriors were also known for their proficiency of fighting over their horses’ tails like those of scorpions.   (While I disagree with the Historicists interpretation of when these events occur, they may not be that far off in their description if we look at the modern ISIS terrorists.)

Preterist Approach:

Preterists view the locusts as demons set loose in the besieged City of Jerusalem in 70 CE.  The king was Satan himself.

Futurist Approach:

Those Futurists who understand these as demonic creatures generally don’t attempt to explain the features of the locusts as symbolic of anything else but their actual appearance.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists view the locusts as demons and relate their description to the first two chapters of Joel.

 In my next post, we will begin to explore the Sixth Shofar in Revelation 9:13-15.

 Click here for PDF version.

[1] What the Bible teaches – Revelation by James Allen.

[2] Greek word used in most English translations.  Sterns uses our English word in his translation.

[3] Material in this section is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg

Shavuot (Pentecost)

God’s Appointed Times

We will take a break from our series on the Revelation 9 and return to God’s Appointed Times ~ Shavuot (Pentecost).  In 2017, Shavuot will be observed by Jewish Believers beginning at sundown on Tuesday, May 30th.  Christians will be celebrating Pentecost on Sunday, June 4th.

Scriptural Basis

15“‘From the day after the day of rest — that is, from the day you bring the sheaf for waving — you are to count seven full weeks, 16until the day after the seventh week; you are to count fifty days; and then you are to present a new grain offering to Adonai. 17You must bring bread from your homes for waving — two loaves made with one gallon of fine flour, baked with leaven — as firstfruits for Adonai. 18Along with the bread, present seven lambs without defect one year old, one young bull and two rams; these will be a burnt offering for Adonai, with their grain and drink offerings, an offering made by fire as a fragrant aroma for Adonai. 19Offer one male goat as a sin offering and two male lambs one year old as a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20The cohen will wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before Adonai, with the two lambs; these will be holy for Adonai for the cohen. 21On the same day, you are to call a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work; this is a permanent regulation through all your generations, no matter where you live.” (Vayikra [Leviticus] 23:15-21)

 Basic Description

Shavu’ot was one of three festivals (Pesach/Matzah & Sukkot being the other two) appointed by Adonai where all Jewish males were to go up to Jerusalem.  Shavu’ot means “weeks.”  It comes exactly fifty days after Pesach.  In Greek, we have come to know it as Pentecost.  Pentecost means “fifty.”  It was an agricultural festival to celebrate the latter fruits of the spring harvest.  Recall that Yom HaBikkurim (First Fruits) immediately following Pesach celebrated the barley harvest and, as Believers, we recognize it as the resurrection of Yeshua – the first fruit from the dead.  Shavu’ot celebrates the thanksgiving for the wheat harvest symbolized by the two loaves of challah.

Observance

The two loaves of challah were brought into the Temple and with great ceremony, waved in every direction before Adonai.  In addition, blood sacrifices were offered to cover the sin of the people.  Since sacrifices can no longer be made with the destruction of the Second Temple, the modern Jewish observance of Shavu’ot has changed.  Rabbis calculated that Moshe received the Torah at Mount Sinai on Shavu’ot.  Hence, the rabbinic name for Shavu’ot is Zman Matan Torateynu (the Time of the Giving of the Torah).

The custom of decorating the synagogue in greenery, flowers and baskets of fruit to symbolize the harvest aspect of Shavu’ot; the practice of marking the holiday with a meal featuring dairy products in recognition of Scripture being described as the pure milk of the Word (I Peter 2:2); and the inclusion of the Megillah (scroll) of Ruth in the service are all the primary reminders of Shavu’ot’s agricultural prominence.

But Ruth’s story sounds another theme, one more relevant to the celebration of Shavu’ot by modern Jewish people and Messianic Believers.  When her husband dies, Ruth – a gentile – elects to stay with Naomi, her mother-in-law, telling her “your people will be my people, and your God will be my God” (Ruth 1:16) binding herself willingly to the people Isra’el.  Ruth’s story is one of commitment to the Jewish people freely made and to the covenant with God that is the core of the Jewish religion and experience.  Like Ruth, the gentile woman who was in the lineage of Yeshua, we have voluntarily said to our fellow Messianic Jewish believers your people will be my people, your God will be my God.

Shavu’ot celebrates the most important moment in the Mosaic covenant – the giving of the Torah to Moshe and its acceptance by Isra’el at Sinai.  Shavu’ot has come to be dedicated to the idea of Torah study and Jewish education.  Traditional Jews stay up all night on the first night of this festival studying the Torah.  In keeping with the theme of Jewish education, Shavu’ot has traditionally been the time when many Jewish schools mark graduation.

Messianic significance abounds in this festival.  From God’s perspective the time of great harvest when large numbers of Jewish believers and later Gentiles came into a personal relationship with Him was initiated at the Shavu’ot immediately after Yeshua’s resurrection. (Acts 2:40-43)  The two leavened loaves of Shavu’ot may therefore symbolize Jew and Gentile presented to God and now part of His family.  God set us free from slavery to sin by placing his Spirit in us to enable us to live as He intended (Romans 8:1-4).  Hence God visibly placed His Ruach HaKodesh in Yeshua’s followers on that important Shavu’ot centuries ago (Acts 2:4).

The coming of the Ruach HaKodesh served as the completion of Pesach, the completion of our atonement, in the sense that through the Ruach, God gives us the power we need to overcome our tendency to do evil.

The theme of Shavu’ot can be best summed up by the word revival.  Isra’el was called to praise God for the first fruits of the ground, knowing that these early fruits assured the latter harvest.  This also applies to the spiritual Kingdom of God.  The first fruit of believers at Shavu’ot virtually guarantees a revival in the latter-day spiritual harvest for Messiah.  Now we can understand why God included Shavu’ot in the three required festivals for every Jewish male.  He had gathered Jewish men from throughout the region to hear the Good News of Yeshua in their own language.  They would take that message back home with them to tell their families and friends.  As Pesach speaks of redemption, Shavu’ot speaks of revival.  The message of Shavu’ot is one of great hope and joy.  It was a message heard and accepted by 3,000 Jewish people on that special Shavu’ot (Acts 2:41).  Note that 3,000 Jewish people died because of their rebellion of worshiping the Golden Calf at the giving of the Torah.

When Is The Biblical Feast Of Shavuot?

Many people desire to know the actual Biblical date for Shavuot.  It is the only feast that God did not say fell on a specific date in the Hebrew calendar.  Rather He gave a formula for calculating the day.  Though the traditional Jewish community will celebrate Shavuot according to that traditional calculation, there is a difference of opinion on the matter.  In the first century the Pharisees and Sadducees differed on the date that Shavuot was to be celebrated. The question arose over which Sabbath does Firstfruits (see Vayikra 23:9-14) take place after: the day after Pesach, which is generally considered a Sabbath or the regular seventh day Sabbath, i.e. Saturday during the week of Pesach?

The Pharisees claimed the correct day was the day after the first day of Matzah, the sixteenth of Nisan. The Sadducees taught that the correct day was Sunday, the day after the weekly Sabbath. Since the writings of the Pharisees survived and developed into traditional Judaism, their opinion is accepted in modern Judaism.

But who is biblically correct?  Remember, the Scriptures state, “you are to count seven full Sabbaths until the day after the seventh week; you are to count fifty days.” (Leviticus 23:15-16).

For it to be the day after the seventh Shabbat, the initial Sabbath would have to be the weekly Sabbath. So it would appear the Sadducees were right. Consequently, I believe that the Sadducees got this one correct. Amazingly, the year that Yeshua died, the sixteenth of Nisan fell on the Sunday, which is the day after the Sabbath for the Sadducees as well. God worked it out that neither group would have a reason not to recognize Yeshua as the Firstfruits of the Resurrection.

In my next post, we will return to our series on the Revelation 9 as we continue to examine the Description of Locusts.

Click here for PDF version.

The Fifth Shofar ~ Part 2

Revelation 9:1-6
The End Times

In my last post, we began to explore Revelation 9:1-6 dealing with the Fifth Shofar.  In this post, we will conclude exploring Revelation 9:1-6 and the blowing of the Fifth Shofar. 

“The fifth angel sounded his shofar; and I saw a star that had fallen out of heaven onto the earth, and he was given the key to the shaft leading down to the Abyss. 2 He opened the shaft of the Abyss, and there went up smoke from the shaft like the smoke of a huge furnace; the sun was darkened, and the sky too, by the smoke from the shaft.  3 Then out of the smoke onto the earth came locusts, and they were given power like the power scorpions have on earth. 4 They were instructed not to harm the grass on the earth, any green plant or any tree, but only the people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.  5 The locusts were not allowed to kill them, only to inflict pain on them for five months; and the pain they caused was like the pain of a scorpion sting. 6 In those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.” ~ Revelation 9:1-6 (CJB)

He opened the shaft of the Abyss, and there went up smoke from the shaft like the smoke of a huge furnace; the sun was darkened, and the sky too, by the smoke from the shaft.  During the fourth shofar judgment, a third part of the sun, the moon, and the stars were darkened. Now there is total darkness upon the face of the earth because of the smoke pouring out of the abyss. However, it is not the darkness that should hold our attention, but what comes out of the darkness!

Then out of the smoke onto the earth came locusts, and they were given power like the power scorpions have on earth. 4 They were instructed not to harm the grass on the earth, any green plant or any tree, but only the people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.  5 The locusts were not allowed to kill them, only to inflict pain on them for five months; and the pain they caused was like the pain of a scorpion sting. 6 In those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.” 

The demon locusts are terrifying.  We will learn in verses 7-10 that these locusts are shaped like war horses, they have humanlike faces, with women’s hair and lions’ teeth.  Their breastplates are like iron and their crowns like gold.  Their wings sound like an army of chariots and horses rushing to war.  They have the power to sting like scorpions.  They feed, not on vegetation like regular locusts (in fact, they are forbidden to do so), but on terror. The locusts are given strict orders to torment only those who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.  The locusts are also prohibited from killing people. They can only torment people for five months, like the normal period for locusts (May to September) in Israel.

There are parallels in the prophecies in the book of Joel (see 1:4, 2:4-14), which also predicts a locust plague as part of the events leading to the coming Day of Judgment. A locust plague is also described in Exodus 10:12-20.

It should be noted that these demonic creatures are given credit for being intelligent, as they are given a clear command concerning what they may and may not do. G. E. Jones explains his theory about these locusts: [1]

These are not literal locusts, because locusts do not have scorpion-like stings in their tails. These creatures do not devour the green vegetation; in fact, they are prohibited from doing so. This demonic army is given the assignment of tormenting all who have not been protected by the seal of God. The 144,000 men from the tribes of Israel would therefore escape this painful judgment (Rev. 7:1-8). In fact, it is likely that all who have trusted the Lord will be sealed in some special way and protected from torment.

One can only imagine the extent of this torment!  The pain will be so excruciating that those afflicted will yearn for death, but will be unable to die and escape their earthly torment.  As Yochanan continues to write down what he is seeing, he describes in detail this demonic creature that has been unleashed on the inhabitants of this world.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 9:2-6 [2]

Historicist Approach:

Recall from my last post that most Historicists see the star as Mohammed.  That is based on their interpretation of the locusts.  Nearly all view the locusts as the Saracens (Arab Muslims) and their campaigns against the Eastern Roman Empire from about 612 to 763 CE.  The king over them is Mohammed.  They also see a parallel when they were instructed not to harm the grass on the earth, any green plant or any tree and a passage from the Koran which states: “Destroy no palm trees, nor any fields of corn, cut down no fruit trees.”  Even advocates of other views who are adamant in their rejection of the Historicist system of interpretation have admitted the convincing nature of this identification.

Preterist Approach:

The Preterist view continues to be predominately anti-Semitic in this passage.

Futurist Approach:

The locusts are demons loosed to torment and “aptly typify or symbolize the spiritual plague of the last days.”

Idealist Approach:

Idealists point out that the five months of the locust’s ravages correspond to the normal life-span of a locust.

In my next post, we will take a break from Revelation 9 to observe Shavuot (Pentecost)We will then return to Revelation 9:7-12 on the Description of the Locusts.

Click here for PDF version.

 

[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

[2] Material in this section is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg

The Fifth Shofar ~ Part 1

Revelation 9:1-6
The End Times

In my last post, we explored Revelation 8:13 the Three Woes Announced.  In this post, we will begin exploring Revelation 9 and the blowing of the Fifth Shofar.

“The fifth angel sounded his shofar; and I saw a star that had fallen out of heaven onto the earth, and he was given the key to the shaft leading down to the Abyss. 2 He opened the shaft of the Abyss, and there went up smoke from the shaft like the smoke of a huge furnace; the sun was darkened, and the sky too, by the smoke from the shaft.  3 Then out of the smoke onto the earth came locusts, and they were given power like the power scorpions have on earth. 4 They were instructed not to harm the grass on the earth, any green plant or any tree, but only the people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.  5 The locusts were not allowed to kill them, only to inflict pain on them for five months; and the pain they caused was like the pain of a scorpion sting. 6 In those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.” ~ Revelation 9:1-6 (CJB)

There is so much symbolism contained in this passage that I have decided to explore it in bite-size pieces.

First, Yochanan saw a star fallen out of heaven.  What or who was that?  What the Bible Teaches – Revelation by James Allen has this to say:

Scripture leaves no doubt about the person symbolized by this star. The sphere from which he has fallen and the action permitted to him rules out any possibility of his being a man.  Only one personage fits the picture; he is identified in Scripture as the “fallen” one.  Isaiah spoke of this one, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning” (Isa 14:12).  Christ spoke of the same one when He said, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven” (Luke 10:18).  This fallen one, stripped of the high authority that belonged to him at creation (Ezekiel 28:14-15) yet still possessing mighty power, is permitted access to heavenly realms (Job 2:1) until the “war in heaven” (12:7-9) at the midpoint of the tribulation.  The issue of that war is that Satan and his angels are expelled from the heavens.  It is suggested, that this is the event that lies behind this fallen star being on earth, for it is now that he sets about mustering his forces.  By divine permission this banished being is given the key to the abyss and he uses it to release the hordes of his followers who have been locked up there.

Most other interpreters agree with Allen that the star is Satan himself, except as explained below in the Four Views section.  Interestingly, the Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern has this to say:

The star is not Satan (despite Isaiah 14:12, Lk 10:17), but an angel, who still has the key at in Revelation 20:1-2. “Next, I saw an angel coming down from heaven, who had the key to the Abyss and a great chain in his hand.  He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan [the Adversary], and chained him up for a thousand years.”

Second, Yochanan saw that he was given the key to the shaft leading down to the Abyss.  What is the Abyss?

Stern has this to say about the Abyss:

The Abyss is not Sh’ol (as at Romans 10:7), but a place where demonic beings are imprisoned (see Revelation 11:7; 17:8; 20:2-3).

The prison of the satanic powers is called “the bottomless pit” which is an excellent translation of the Greek word abyssos transliterated into English as abyss. The word pit generally depicts a well-shaft (as in Luke 14:5) but here describes the narrow subterranean passage leading to this dread abode.  This bottomless pit is mentioned seven times in this book (Revelation 9:1, 2, 11; 11:7; 17:8; 20:1, 3) and clearly conveys the idea of a very dark, deep prison house.  Whether it is within hades itself as a special compartment, or distinct from it, Scripture does not reveal.  It is, however, reserved for the imprisonment of spiritual and demonic beings.

Doubtless this is the place that answers to the “chains of darkness” (2 Pet 2:4) where spiritual beings are confined, and the place of banishment feared by the demons on earth (Luke 8:31). It is the place from which the beast emerges (Revelation 11:7; 17:8) and will be the prison of Satan himself during the millennial reign of Yeshua (Revelation 20:3).  The beings locked up here are evil spirits of some kind, and are not to be confused with the spirits of evil men which are in hades awaiting their summons before the great white throne; such can be released only by the One who holds the keys to Death and Sh’ol (Revelation 1:18).

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 9:1 [1]

NOTE:  As we are taking this passage in bite-sized pieces, some of the views have not taken a position on some of the phrases we will be exploring.

Historicist Approach:

Most Historicists see the star as Mohammed.  (I’ll explain this further when we get to verse 3 and the locusts.)  Matthew Henry takes a different approach and sees the star as Boniface, the third Bishop of Rome.

Preterist Approach:

Preterist interpreters believe the star is not a literal star, but some personality such as an angel, minister of religion or a body of religious teachers that spread heresies without specifically identifying anyone.

Futurist Approach:

Most Futurists identify the star as “none other than Satan himself.”  They also see the abyss as described above.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists seem to waffle between seeing the star as the angel in verse 11 or as Satan himself.  They also agree with the Futurists on the issue of the abyss.

I found it interesting that the Historicists and the Preterists didn’t deal with the abyss.

In my next post, we will continue to explore Revelation 9:1-6 the Fifth Shofar ~ Part 2.

Click here for PDF version. 

[1] Material in this section is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg