Sun, Jun 11, 2000

Demonic Locusts: Revelation 9:1-12

Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.

DEMONIC LOCUSTS!

REVELATION 9:1-12

Court cases are sometimes labeled: "Smith vs. Wisconsin" or "Jones vs. The People," and I wonder what great sin the person did to be "against" by so many people. But at the Last Judgment, every case will be labeled, "(I) vs. God!"

You see, God is not mocked. He has done everything possible to keep you from His judgment. He has done everything possible to free you from your sins, but if you refuse the free gift of life that is found in Christ, you will see God’s judgment!

In our last study we began looking at the second set of seven judgments known as the trumpet judgments. With the sounding of the first of these four trumpets we saw devastating effects on the vegetation in which 1/3 of all the growing vegetation was destroyed. Then the oceans were affected by the second trumpet blast where we saw "something like a great mountain burning with fire" strike the oceans and it killed 1/3 of the sea creatures along with the destruction of 1/3 of the ships in the ocean. The third trumpet blast sounded and a star fell from heaven called Wormwood. And this star polluted 1/3 of the fresh water supply and because of that many people died from drinking this water.

The fourth trumpet blast brought about cataclysmic events in the heavens which caused 1/3 of the daylight hours to be darkened. That would mean around 8 hours of daylight and 16 hours of night. And just when you think it can’t get any worse, this angel or messenger of God flies across the sky saying "...‘Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of theremaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!" To put it plainly, "Hold on to your hats, cause you ain’t seen nothing yet!" You see, with each succeeding trumpet blast we see a deepening intensity of the judgment of God.

This morning we are going to be looking at the fifth trumpet blast and in it this locust-like judgment from God comes forth. And as we read through this portion of Scripture this morning, you can understand those eerie words of John when he said "For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" Revelation 6:17. In saying that, lets begin reading in verse 1 of Revelation chapter 9. (Read Revelation 9:1-12).

As I read over these verses I use to envision helicopters coming over the land and destroying the inhabitants. They would fly over the mountains with a chariot-like sound as their engines roared. In fact it brought to mind the beach-head scene from the movie Apocalypse Now! And I felt pretty secure with that interpretation of these so-called locusts until I read the book of Joel. It was then that the Lord opened my eyes to what these creatures were all about, and we will see that this morning as we go through these verses.

You see, my mistake was I tried to put John’s description of these creatures into today’s technology, and I believe that was the wrong way to approach this section. Others try to spiritualize this trumpet blast, and that too is a wrong way to interpret these verses. For instance, Torrance interprets this passage in the following way:

"St. John’s vision likens the Word of God to a star that falls out of heaven and opens the bottomless pit of human nature...Preach the Gospel and keep on preaching it, and either men are ashamed and converted or the bottomless pit is opened. Surely this is what has happened in the Western world, in civilized Europe, as well as in the land of the Mau Mau, for example. The cross of Jesus Christ has provoked such a reaction against it that all the latent evil in men has been pushed to the surface in unbelievable wickedness and bloodshed. The very bottomless pit has been opened in our midst, so that heaven and earth have been darkened with the fumes and the whole atmosphere of the world has been poisoned."

As true as this statement may be, as interesting a comparison to what John spoke of and the technology of today, that is not what John is describing here. John is speaking of a judgment that comes after the 3½ year mark of the 7 year tribulation period, probably close to the end, and it is very literal in nature, as we shall see!

REVELATION 9

VERSE 1

As the fifth angel sounds his trumpet, a star, that has fallen from heaven and comes crashing to the earth, is seen. Understand that this is not space debris, for the personal pronoun "he" is used. Also, this event has already occurred, it has already taken place, for John tells us the star had "fallen" from heaven, past tense and so a past event.

So who is this star that fell from heaven? Isaiah 14:12-14 tells us, "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer (Day star), son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of thecongregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High."

When pride filled Lucifer’s heart, he rebelled against God, trying to make himself out to be god. And understand this, Lucifer was the anointed cherub, the number one angelic being, he was the praise and worship leader in heaven, and he was beautiful, perfect in his creation. But that was not enough for him, he wanted it all, and he fell fast and he fell hard. In fact, Jesus, in speaking of this event, said "...‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven." Luke 10:18.

And so we see that Satan, or Lucifer, was given the key to the bottomless pit. And notice that whoever this army is that is locked in this pit, Satan does not have the authority or the ability to release them until God gives him the key and allows him to unleash them from this prison. Satan is subject to God’s sovereign rule!

VERSES 2-3

As this pit is opened, this smoke comes pouring out. Remember that this pit has been closed for thousands of years and now that it is opened, the musty, foul smoke arises out of it and then out of that smoke we see these demonic locust-like creatures come forth.

Now what is the bottomless pit all about and where is it? Well, if it is a bottomless pit, the only place it could be is the center of the earth. You see, you can only go up from the center of the earth, there is no bottom, and thus, it is bottomless!

This abyss or bottomless pit is nothing more than a great pit with a narrow shaft leading to the top. This shaft is locked and Satan is given the key to unlock it. Now in Luke chapter 8, Jesus encounters the demon possessed man from the Gadarenes. And these demons have this exchange with Jesus and say "And they begged Him that He would not command them to goout into the abyss.Luke 8:31.

So this abyss is a place of incarceration for those demons or fallen angels that were especially wicked. You see, not all demons are chained, but some are. And Jesus seems to indicate in Luke, that some are placed there when they step beyond a certain boundary. Also in Jude we are given more details who these fallen angels are that have been locked in the abyss. Jude tells us"And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." Jude 6,7.

Jude is saying that these angels violated the laws of God by not carefully guarding and maintaining their original position in which they were created for. Instead they transgressed the laws of God and invaded territory that was foreign to them, and forbidden to them, namely the human race.

As we move into verse 7 of Jude we see more clearly what that sin was that caused them to be locked in chains for the day of judgment. Jude is likening the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah to the sins of those fallen angels. What did they do? We are told that they went "after strange flesh."

"Strange" in the Greek is the word HETEROS, which means "different flesh." That is to say that the men of Sodom and Gomorrah went after other men, they were having homosexual relationships, and thus it went against that which was natural. These angels had that same sexual problem, not homosexuality, but going after something that God did not intend them to go after. These angels transgressed the limits of their own nature and invaded the realm of another nature. These angels co-habituated with women and brought forth offspring.

Another example of this can be found in II Peter 2:4, which says "For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell (Tartarus) and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment." Peter’s point is this, if God did not spare these angels who sinned, He surely will not spare man who was created slightly lower than angels if they are involved in sin.

Dr. Wuest translate’s this verse from the Greek like this, "For, in view of the fact that God did not spare angels who sinned, but having thrust them down into Tartarus, committed them to pits of the neither-world gloom, being reserved for judgment."

You see, Satan tried to contaminate the earth so that Jesus could not be born of the seed of the woman. This was done as angles co-habituated with women. In Genesis chapter 6 we are told"Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose...There were giants (Nephilim, fallen ones) on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were themighty men who were of old, men of renown." Genesis 6:1-2, 4.

Now some like to say that the godly line of Seth, being "the sons of God" married the ungodly line of Cain, being the "daughters of men." But the union of a believer and unbeliever does not produce some kid of mutation or strange manifestation - giants or Nephilim! The classical use in the Old Testament of the phrase "sons of God" or BAR ELOHEM is that of angels. You can find that used that very way in Job 1:6 and Job 38:7.

And so those fallen angels or demons that are locked in chains down in Tartarus or the center of the earth, are those wickedest of angels who co-habituated with women, and others who the Lord feels should be placed there.

The other interesting point is that Jude and Peter tell us that these angels are locked up for the day of judgment. We, I think, falsely assume that it is God’s judgment upon them as they are cast into outer darkness for eternity. Yes that is coming but I believe this is referring to God’s judgment being poured out, and He will use these demonic forces to unleash His judgment upon this world. Remember what Jude said, "...He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day.Jude 6.

Also note that this abyss or bottomless pit is where Satan is incarcerated during the 1,000 year reign of Christ, and then he will be loosed for a season before he is finally cast into the lake of fire or outer darkness for eternity. In Revelation chapter 20 we read of this sentence beginning in verse 1 "Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while." Revelation 20:1-3. And then we read in verse 10 of Revelation chapter 20, "The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever."

VERSE 4

You will notice right away that this is not your garden variety locust. These locusts do not eat the vegetation like normal locusts would. But they are sent to harm men who are not sealed by God. And we saw back in Revelation chapter 7 that 144,000 are sealed from the 12 tribes of Israel. That means that this judgment will come after these men are sealed. Thus, everyone else is fair game and they will swarm and attack unmercifully.

VERSES 5-6

These demonic locusts can’t kill, but their scorpion-like stings will make people want to die. I have heard that a scorpion sting causes excruciating pain throughout the body. And these demonic locusts will ravage the land for 5 months, which is interesting because the natural life-span of a locust is 5 months, even though these demonic locusts are very unnatural ones!

Imagine the pain, men wanting to die and yet death takes a holiday for 5 months! What a horrible period of time. Imagine these demonic locusts that keep attacking and inflicting their pain, men can only suffer through it, hoping to die, and yet they won’t be able to for 5 months!

VERSES 7-10

Notice that in these verses, as we are given a description of these locusts, we see the word "like" used some 8 times. You see, John is making a comparison and is not saying that they are horses with crowns on their heads with faces like men, and-so-on. It is only a comparison as John sees these demonic creatures arise out of the abyss.

Locusts invade like an army whose numbers don’t seem to end. They just keep coming and coming. In fact skies have been darkened as they swarm overhead, moving to their next feeding ground. And they would devour everything in sight even down to the roots of the plant, and then move on. Their teeth were like a lions teeth with a saw-tooth pattern, again, enabling them to eat right down to the roots. In fact, stories have been told that at night, during these infestations, you can hear them chewing on the vegetation. Also, their bodies are solid, covered with armor for protection. And as they fly, the noise they make can be deafening.

VERSE 11

Now we are told that there is a king over these demonic locusts. A leader who not only will release them from the pit, but who will guide them in their attacks. A leader in whom they will serve. His name, in any language, is destruction! In Hebrew it is ABADDON, which means destruction. In the Greek it is APOLLYON, which means destroyer. Who is this king that causes so much destruction in the lives of men? John10:10 tells us that Satan, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy..." Thus, their leader is none other than Satan.

Now just reading these verses here in Revelation we can all see that this is not a normal locust infestation. And to prove that point further, God places a golden nugget of information in the book of Proverbs. In Proverbs 30:27 we are told "The locusts have no king, yet they alladvance in ranks."

God is telling us that normal locust infestations have no king over them, even though they move in tight military-like units. But this locust infestation here in Revelation is far from normal. In fact, we are told that Satan himself is given the key to the bottomless pit to let these creatures out to cause pain upon the people of this earth who have not been sealed by God, and it is Satan who is leading them.

The book of Joel deals with a devastating locust plague. And understand that Joel is trying to awaken the people out of their spiritual sleep and to alert them of the coming judgment. And as we read over these verses in Joel, also note that this past judgment is a foreshadowing of another judgment from God upon a Christ rejecting world, only this time they will not harm the vegetation but they will afflict pain upon mankind, and this pain will be so intense that they will want to die, and yet they won’t be able to. Just as the previous infestation left the land a "desolate wilderness" this judgment from God will leave men’s lives a "desolate wilderness."

Joel starts out by saying in Joel chapter 2 beginning in verse 1, "Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the LORD is coming, for it is at hand: A day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations." Joel 2:1-2.

As this day of judgment comes upon the land, the land will become like darkness. As the approaching of this army of locusts gets closer, the land will become black as night. It is not a day to rejoice in but to repent and turn back to God. Of this day we read in Amos "Woe to youwho desire the day of the LORD! For what good is the day of the LORD to you? It will bedarkness, and not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him! Or as though he went into the house, leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him! Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light? Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it?" Amos 5:18-20.

Now Joel gives us an eye-opening look at how these locusts will move upon the land and you will see that these demonic locusts will move the same way! In Joel chapter 2, beginning in verse 4, we read "Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; and like swift steeds, so they run. With a noise like chariots over mountaintops they leap, like the noise of a flaming fire that devours the stubble, like a strong people set in battle array. Before them the people writhe in pain; all faces are drained of color. They run like mighty men, they climb the wall like men of war; every one marches in formation, and they do not break ranks. They do not push one another; every one marches in his own column. Though they lunge between the weapons, they are not cut down. They run to and fro in the city, they run on the wall; they climb into the houses, they enter at the windows like a thief. The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble; the sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness. The LORD gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can endure it?" Joel 2:4-11.

You see, you can’t escape from these insects. They are all over the place. Listen to this Nineteenth Century report of a locust infestation. They "entered the inmost recesses of the houses, were found in every corner, stuck to our clothes and infested our food." I don’t know about you, but I would be on the phone to Orkin immediately! And notice that Joel tells us that even our weapons will not be able to harm these creatures! And also understand that God is still in control, He is using them for His purposes!

Now HISTORICALLY speaking the prophecy of Joel was fulfilled in Joel’s day as the land was besieged with these locusts. SYMBOLICALLY it was fulfilled as the Southern Kingdom of Judah was carried away into captivity by the Babylonians in 586 BC. AndPROPHETICALLY these locusts speak of the demons which will arise from the abyss, as Revelation 9 tells us.

Understand that as this fifth angel sounded the trumpet, and this fallen star, Satan, is given the key to the bottomless pit by God, he is about to unleash a woe that would cause the strongest man to run for cover, if he could find one. Those horror flicks could never illustrate what this time will be like, and yet, it is not over, there are two more woes to go!

VERSE 12

If you think that the destructive forces of the fifth trumpet are bad, wait until you read of how much destruction is caused by the sixth angel, as this angel sounds forth this trumpet of God’s judgment!

But again God’s grace and mercy is extended to all. He has opened the door of salvation to all, even in the tribulation period! In Amos chapter 5 we read "...‘Seek Me and live.’...Seek the LORD and live..." Amos 5:4b, 6a. If you refuse, then you will not live with Him but be eternally separated from Him in a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth for eternity!

Understand that the day of the Lord is fast approaching and for those that don’t know Christ they will not escape His wrath. We as Christians have the hope of Christ returning for us to keep us from this hour of trial that will come upon the earth dwellers. It is as Titus 2:13-15 says,"looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Speak these things,exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you." That should encourage us to seek the lost and share our faith with them. Remember, there is two more woes to go and then the bowl judgments!

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