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