See Part One – A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 1-3
Part Two – A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 4-5
Part Three: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 6-7
Last week we saw in Revelation chapter 6 the beginning of God’s divine judgment that only Christ alone was worthy to release. As Christ opened the first six Seals, we saw that each ushered in a specific judgment from a holy God on a Christ-rejecting world. We asked in Rev 6:17 with the world experiencing these judgments, “Who is able to stand?” And chapter seven answered that question: those 144,000 Jews who will be called by the Lord and receive HIS seal on their foreheads (Rev 7:3). For the record, I would say that Revelation 7 flashes back to the beginning of the Tribulation after the Rapture has occurred. As we look at Revelation 8 we see Christ opening the seventh Seal which releases another series of seven judgments (the Trumpet judgments (Rev 8-15).
Below is a chart which describes the various Seal, Trumpet and Bowl judgments which gives a basic sense of the effects of each judgment. I didn’t want to spend this article going through the specific details of each judgment when a picture is worth a thousand words.
God accomplishes these judgments. There is no question whatsoever that they come from the throne of God. What is taking place in heaven is every bit as real as what will be taking place on earth. But we can wonder how God brings these judgments about: for example, is the 2nd Trumpet judgment of a fiery mountain being thrown into the sea that kills a third of all the fish a supernatural act of God? Does God create the fiery mountain and hurl it at earth? Or is it the effect of God merely stepping back and allowing sinful man to do what comes naturally (in this case by launching nuclear weapons on the earth)??? As you look at what unfolds: a third of the earth and trees and grass burned up, a third of the oceans and fish life destroyed, a third of the fresh waters being made toxic, darkness covering the earth, intense heat, etc., it seems very much to me that all of these things are precisely what has been described by scientists if we had a large-scale nuclear war. Remember that we’ve got the War of God and Magog (Ezekiel 39) to fight in addition to the battle that takes place after the world’s armies gather at Armageddon.
On my view, I believe that man fulfills many of these terrible judgments upon himself as a result of God merely stepping aside. I offer two reasons: 1) that 67 years ago before the advent of the nuclear age it would have been impossible that these judgments could have been anything other than supernatural acts by God. Now, with nuclear weapons capable of bringing about what is described in Revelation; with the East literally being able to field an army of 200 million men (Rev 9, 16) when there weren’t 200 million human beings alive on the entire planet when John received this revelation; and things like the Euphrates drying up so this demonic Eastern army can cross it coinciding with a series of dams being built across the Euphrates for the very first time in history – it just strikes me as more than coincidence. And 2) because on this view man won’t be able to stand before God and say, “Well, we were doing great without You and then You started doing all this awful stuff to us.” God would be able to respond, “You did all that to YOURSELVES. YOUR own Antichrist did it to you.” God would not have wiped out some 2 billion human beings in Rev 9:13-21 after previously wiping out a fourth of all humanity (Rev 6:7-8); He would merely have stepped aside and allowed man to inflict those judgments upon himself. And doesn’t that message of foolish actions resulting in disastrous consequences jibe well with Proverbs?
That said, another possibility is a super volcano. We have five of them around the planet – and any ONE of them exploding could end human civilization on earth, according to scientists. That fiery mountain could be the top of an actual mountain being thrown off its foundation by the blast of the super volcano. So if you enjoy worshiping nature rather than your Creator, your Creator can give you more nature than you ever dreamed of, can’t He?
The simple truth is that I don’t profess to know precisely how God will fulfill these judgments; I know merely that God is ultimately sovereign over EVERYTHING and that these judgments WILL be fulfilled. And of course I also very much believe they will be literally fulfilled as people really die and as the skies truly darken over the earth.
This will be a truly terrifying time to be alive. Assuming that we begin the Tribulation with 7 billion humans, that number will be down to 3.5 billion (HALF!) considering just the judgments described in Rev 6:7-8 and Rev 9:13-21 alone. And just think of the mass starvation as basically a third of green things perish and a third of the oceans perish. How much worse can things get than they are now? A LOT.
We can’t leave without considering the judgments of Revelation with the plagues of Moses in Exodus. Consider: man gets sores in Rev 16:2 cf. the boils the Egyptians get in Exodus 9:8-12. The waters became blood in Exodus 7:17-21 and the oceans and rivers become blood in Revelation. Darkness settles over the earth in Exodus 10:21-23 and darkness settles over the earth in Rev 8:12 (and 16:8-9). We have locusts described in Exodus 10:21-23 and those pesky locusts come back in Rev 9:13-21 and 16:10-11. We’ve got an invasion of a giant army of frogs in Exodus 8:2-4 and an invasion from a far deadlier human army in Rev 9:13-21 and 16:12-16. And we’ve got hail in Exodus 9:18-26 and we’ve got all kinds of hail in Rev 11:15-19 and 16:17-21. The judgments of the Bowls mirror the judgments of the Trumpets – and very clearly both seem to mirror the judgments of Exodus.
And just why is it that so many Christians understand the plagues of Egypt literally, as having happened exactly as described, and yet refuse to believe that the plagues described in Revelation just likewise might also be fulfilled literally? That frankly might be the biggest mystery of all.
So let’s turn to Revelation 9. We start with the fifth Trumpet judgment (and the first woe). What do we see? We see what are described as demonic locusts. And frankly, whether they are actually demon-possessed locusts or whether they are armored attack helicopters (see: http://www.hellos.com/angelo/revelation/angel5.html for example) we end up with the same point: God doesn’t directly inflict this terrible pain on human beings. He either merely paroled four demons or stepped aside so that demonic helicopter squadrons could attack people with gas or nerve agent that may very well be in our arsenal right now. 2 Peter 2:4-5 points out that God has held some particularly vicious demons since the days of Noah. And we know that unlike ordinary locusts, which “have no king” (Proverbs 30:27), these locusts – whatever they are – will have a demonic king whose name means “Destroyer.” We also know that most locusts can’t leave the grass alone. And as painful as their attack clearly will be, God displays His grace yet again by not allowing them to kill and consign more victims to hell.
Have you ever watched the fun movie Back to the Future? Let’s say I rode my v-twin motorcycle into the early 17th century right into a Puritan village wearing my full face helmet and my leathers and my pointy-toed cowboy boots: what would the people have made of me careening around on something that had no legs but ran faster than any horse? How would they have interpreted me? And how long do you think it would take them to assemble into a mob to seek to burn me at the stake? And then you get the sense of the question, “How would the Apostle John have described me given his 1st century understanding of the world?”
In any event, I do NOT want you to get bogged down on whether the creatures seen in Rev 9:1-12 are demonic helicopters or demonic locusts and have your whole world collapse if it’s the other one; because that is simply not the point. It’s true that we don’t know exactly what these things are; but we have a very detailed description as to what they will do. And we also have a very good understanding of why they’re doing what they do. As the song goes, “two out of three aint bad.” We know that the generation that experiences these things will know all too well what they turn out to be, and we know that this story is NOT “about the future,” but rather it is about Jesus Christ finally and fully overcoming evil and taking His rightful place as King of kings and Lord of lords surrounded by His people. So don’t get bogged down by what you don’t fully know yet; just be thankful you won’t have to find out what the “locusts” are the hard way!
The sixth Trumpet (and the 2nd woe) in Rev 9:13-21 is much the same; are these demon-possessed humans or are they an actual demonic army? The text says, “kings from the east,” plural. I believe it will be a human army from China and quite probably several of her Eastern allies (such as Pakistan); but I don’t know for sure. Whatever they are, we again know just what they are doing and we know why they are doing it. And whether they’re real demons or Chinese communist demons, they’ll going to accomplish the exact same job, won’t they? We can certainly speculate what kind of army this will be; but let us do so knowing that we’re speculating and realizing that, once again, we’ll be dramatically happier not knowing whether these are humans or demons than will be the poor fools who get caught in this army’s path and get to find out firsthand, won’t we?
In the time we have left, let’s briefly consider the message of Rev 9:20-21. We find that the unbelievers of the Tribulation are so militant in their unbelief that nothing will soften their hearts or cause them to worship Jesus Christ. There will simply be no repenting in these people. And we’re told that their lives will be characterized by demon worship, sorcery (“pharmakia” or heavy drug use), sexual immorality (“porneia” from which we get the word “pornography”), murder and theft. They just sound like such a nice, special group of people, don’t they?
The Nov 21st issue of The Desert Sun had an article titled, “Riverside County jails see record early releases: Data reflect depth of Riverside County’s overcrowding crisis.” It ends with these words:
Nearly two-thirds of those parolees are categorized as “high-risk” offenders, according to the probation department.
That’s higher than the 40 percent of high-risk offenders that the state had projected would be under county care, Riverside County Chief Probation Officer Alan Crogan said in a recent interview.
“We missed the mark,” he said. “Some of them, regretfully, have serious mental health illnesses. That’s another thing that we didn’t realize — the extent of the mental health issues,” Crogan said.
Sheriff Stanley Sniff Jr. has repeatedly warned Riverside County jails, like many of the 58 counties across the state, would be “overwhelmed” by housing felons.
“The system is so overloaded. We’re not close. We’re way, way, behind,” Sniff has said. “That’s what’s added to our misery, when you’re seeing some terrible surges in crime.”
The very fabric of our society is beginning to whirl out of control. The world you see before you is on the verge of collapse. Something is coming to fill the vacuum. He will be the ultimate big government tyrant. The Bible calls him the beast.
Part Seven: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 14-15
Part Eight: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 16-18
Tags: 200 million man army, Bible prophecy, bowl judgments, demonic, fiery mountain, fifth trumpet, kings from the east, nuclear war, plagues of Moses, Revelation 8-9, seal judgments, second trumpet, sixth trumpet, trumpet judgments