A STUDY ON REVELATION CHAPTER 9

INCLUDES STUDY ON ABYSS OR “THE DEEP”

BY:  JONATHAN MITCHELL

1.  And the fifth agent (messenger) sounded a trumpet, and I saw a star having fallen from out of the heaven into the Land (earth) and the key of the well (cistern; shaft; pit) of The Deep [note: the abyss; that which is very deep so as to be considered bottomless; used in Gen. 1:2 (LXX), “darkness {was} up upon (over) the Deep, and God’s Spirit was bearing (conducting) Himself over upon the water;”  used of “the fountains of the Deep” in Gen. 8:2 (LXX); of “springs of the Deep” in Deut. 8:7; used in Deut. 33:13 (LXX), “And to Joseph he said, ‘His land is of the blessing… from the springs of the Deep below'” and in Ps. 104:2-6 (LXX), “Who dost robe Thyself with light as a garment… Who covers His chambers with waters; Who makes the clouds His chariot… The Deep, as a garment, is His covering;” Ps. 107:23-26 (LXX), “They that go down to the sea… these have seen the works of the Lord, and His wonders in The Deep;” Ps.148:7, 8 “… and all Deeps… the things continually performing His Word;” Isa. 63:13, “He led them through the Deep, as a horse through the wilderness…”] was given to him.

2.  And he opened up the well (shaft; pit) of The Deep and smoke ascended out of the well (shaft), as smoke of a great furnace (or: kiln for smelting, firing earthen ware or baking bread), and the sun and the air were darkened from out of the smoke of the well (shaft).

3.  And locusts came out of the smoke [and went] into the Land (earth).  And authority (permission) was given to them as the scorpions of the land (earth) have authority (permission; license)

4.  And it was declared to them that they may not be acting unjustly to (be injuring or violating) the enclosed pasture (grass) of the Land (earth), nor any green thing, nor any tree, except the humans (the men): those not having the seal (imprint) of God upon their foreheads.

5.  And it was granted (given) to (for) them, not that they should be killing them, but rather that they may be examined (tried as metals by the touchstone; distressed) [for] five months.  And their examination [is/was] as the distress (metal testing) of a scorpion whenever it may strike a human.

6.  And in those days the humans (the men) will seek (search for; pursue) death, and will by no means (under no circumstances) find it.  And they will set their desire to die, and death will flee (escape) from them.

7.  Now the representations (likenesses; figures) of the locusts [were] like (similar to) horses having been made ready (prepared) unto battle.  And upon their heads [were] something like golden wreaths, and their faces [were] as men’s (or: human) faces,

8.   and they were having hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as those of lions.

9.  And they were having breastplates – as breastplate armor made of iron – and the sound of their wings [was] as the sound of chariots of many horses continuously running into battle.

10.  And they continue having tails like scorpions, and stings (goads; sharp points), and in their tails [is] their authority (permission) to act unjustly to (to injure) mankind (the men) [for] five months.

11.  They habitually have a King upon them: the Agent (Messenger) of the Deep.  The name for Him in Hebrew [is] Abaddon (Destruction), and in the Greek He has the name Apollyon (Destroyer; A Destroying One).

12.  The one woe passed away.  Consider – two woes are yet coming after them.

13.  And the sixth agent (messenger) sounded a trumpet, and I heard one voice from out of the four horns of the golden altar [which is] before God,

14.  presently saying to the sixth agent, “Loose the four agents: the ones having been bound upon the great river Euphrates.”

15.  And the four agents were loosed – those having been made ready (being prepared) unto the hour and day and month and year – so that they may be constantly killing the third of the men (the humans).

16.  And the number of the troops (armed forces) of the cavalry [was] two vast multitudes of innumerable groups (or: myriads of myriads) – I heard the number of them (or: their number).

17.  And thus I saw the horses in the vision: and the ones sitting upon them habitually having breastplates of Fire, even resembling hyacinth stone, and being divine in character (qeioV: deity; divinity; divine nature or character; the fire of God; brimstone or sulfur).  And the heads of the horses [are] as heads of Lions.  And Fire, Smoke and Deity (divine nature and character) continuously issues forth from out of their mouths.

18.  From these three plagues (blows; smitings) the third of the men (humans) were killed out of the Fire, and of the Smoke, and of the Deity which is constantly issuing out of their mouths,

19.  for the authority of the horses exists in their mouth and in their tails, for their tails [are] like serpents, having heads, and within them they constantly inflict injustice (injury).

20. And the remaining ones (the rest) of the men (humans), those who were not killed in these plagues (blows), did not change their mind (change their perceptions or ways of thinking) from out of the works (acts; deeds) of their hands, so that they may not worship the demons and the idols (forms): the gold ones, and the wooden ones, which are able (have power) neither to see nor to hear, nor to walk about.

21.  And they did not change their mind (attitude and way of thinking) from out of their murders, nor from out of their employment of drugs (or: sorceries; enchantments), nor from out of her prostitutions (fornications), nor from out of their thefts.

Our challenge here is to determine both the significance of the symbology in this picture, and also whose forces are here being described:  God’s, or the Devil’s.  Is this chapter with its trumpets a continuation of the same judgement/deliverance by the hands of God’s agents as we saw in the previous four trumpets, or are the messages of these trumpets the work of demons, under the command of Satan?  The latter is the view of traditional interpretation, but let’s look at some O.T. passages to see if God has done similar things Himself.

We know how God used Satan, through both men and nature, to bring Job to a greater understanding and relationship with Himself: to further perfect him.

“The book of Job, like all Scripture, directs our attention to God.  The evil that came upon Job could be directly traced to boils and Sabeans, Chaldeans, fire and storm and then further back to Satan as recorded in chapters 1 and 2.  But behind it all was the hand of God, as Job himself declared in his crucial question to his wife, ‘Indeed should we receive good from the One, Elohim, and should we not receive evil?’”(Job 2:10)

(Dean Hough, Unsearchable Riches, Vol.88, #6)

We also have seen how God used the nations e.g. Babylon to judge Israel, and how Paul used Satan to teach Hymeneus and Alexander, “… that they may be trained not to blaspheme.” (I Tim. 1:20), and also judged “…to give up such a one to Satan for the extermination of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

(I Cor.5:4,5).  So, is that the case here in ch. 9, or is this chapter a picture of the judgment brought by the hand of Moses in Egypt, and of the ministry of the two witnesses in ch.11?

We saw the bitterness brought by the star (agent) Wormwood, ch.8:11 above.  Jeremiah, in lamenting what the Babylonians had done to Jerusalem, said, “The ways of Zion are mourning… it is bitter for her.” (Lam. 1:4)  In vs. 8 he gave the reason, Jerusalem hath grievously sinned, for this cause unto exile hath she been delivered.”  He then personalizes God’s dealings with His people, “From on high He sent fire among my bones and laid them prostrate.  He spread out a net for my feet, He made me turn back, He made me desolate, all the day faint… all my foes having heard of my calamities have rejoiced, because THOU hast done it.” (Lam.1:13, 21)

Lam.2:2, “My Lord hath swallowed up without pity all the PASTURES of Jacob [see the 1st trumpet, Rev.8:7, above] (vs.3) and He hath kindled against Jacob a very fire of flame, devouring round about(vs.4) He bent His bow as an Enemy: stood hath His Right Hand as an Adversary… He hath poured out AS FIRE His fury. (vs. 5) The LORD hath been as an Enemy, He hath swallowed up Israel

“A Bear lying in wait He is to me, a LION in secret places.  My ways hath He turned aside and hath torn in pieces hath made me desolate.  He hath bent His bow, and set me up as a mark for the arrow.  He hath caused to enter my reins (kidneys) THE SONS of His quiver.  HE hath sated me with bitter things, hath drenched me with WORMWOOD… remember my humiliation and my feelings, the WORMWOOD and POISON.” (Lam. 3:10-15, 19)

But Jeremiah has hope, “Surely THOUGH HE CAUSED GRIEF, yet HE WILL have compassion…. Out of THE MOUTH of the Most High proceed there not EVIL and BLESSINGS?We have trespassed and rebelled, Thou hast NOT PARDONED [Heb. 6:4-8]!” (Lam.3:32, 38, 42)  In vs. 47 and gives us an example of God’s completed indignation, the glow of His anger, and His fire, Jeremiah uses a figure for the exile of Judah as being “Terror and a pit.”  In ch. 4:11, he speaks of this judgment Yahweh hath completed His indignation, hath poured out the glow of His anger, and hath kindled a fire in Zion which hath devoured her foundations.”  Yet we know that this was not the end of His people, for He later restored them.

In Amos 3:6, “WOULD THERE COME TO BE EVIL IN A CITY, AND YAHWEH NOT HAVE DONE IT?” (CVOT)

“Hear, O earth, lo I am bringing evil on this people, THE FRUIT OF THEIR DEVICES, for to My Words they gave no attention, and My law they kicked against it.” (Jer. 6:19, Young)    

“All through the O.T. locust is the symbol of destruction; and the most vivid description of them and of their destructiveness is in the first two chapters of Joel [that]… should be read in full and set beside the description in the Revelation.” (Barclay)  So, let us read, then list some excerpts from these chapters.

JOEL 1, vs. 4 (Rotherham) “That which was left by the creeping locust hath the swarming locust eaten, and that which was left by the swarming locust hath the grass locust (Heb. the devourer) eaten and that which was left by the grass locust hath the corn locust (the browser) eaten.

vs.6, “For a nation hath come up over My land, bold and without numberhis teeth are the teeth of a lion, and the fangs of a lioness hath he. (v.7) He hath turned My vine to a waste, and my fig-tree to splinters…”

vs.15, “Alas for The Day!  For near is the Day of Yahweh, and as a veritable Destruction from The Destroyer [Rev. 9:11] shall it come.”  Let me insert her Isa. 13:5, “They are coming in from a land far away, from the utmost bound OF THE HEAVENS YAHWEH with His WEAPONS of indignation, to destroy the land.”

vs. 18-19, “How do the beasts groan! [Rom.8:22] Perplexed are the herds of oxen, because there is no pasture for them – even the flocks of sheep are destroyed!for a fire hath consumed the pastures of the wilderness and a flame hath set ablaze all the trees of the field.”

JOEL 2, vs.1, “Blow ye a trumpet in Zion, sound an alarm in My Holy Mountain.  Let all the inhabitants of the land tremblefor coming is the day of Yahweh, for it is near!

vs. 2, “A day of obscurity and deep gloom a day of cloud and thick darkness, AS DAWN spread over the mountains [Ex. 10:22, 23; 14:19, 20], a PEOPLE, numerous and mighty

vs. 3, “Before him (or, itthe people) is a consuming fire, and after him is a flame kindled; as the garden of Eden is the land before him, but after him a desert most desolate…

vs. 4, “Their appearance is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run (pursue).

vs. 5, “As the sound of chariots… as the sound of a flame of fire devouring stubble [Obad. 18, “And the house of Jacob shall become a fire, and the house of Joseph a blaze, and the house of Esau {type of the flesh} for stubble… and there shall not be a survivor for the house of Esau… (v.21) and SAVIORS (DELIVERERS) shall come up in mount Zion to judge mount Esau, and the kingdom shall become Yahweh’s.”], like a people bold, arrayed for battle.

vs. 10, 11, “Before him (it) the land (earth) quaked, the heavens tremble [Heb. 12:26], the sun and the moon have become dark and the stars have withdrawn their shining; and YAHWEH gives forth His Voice before HIS ARMY for exceedingly great (numerous) is HIS CAMP, for MIGHTY is THE DOER of HIS WORD, for great is the Day of Yahweh.”

The purpose statement of all this judgment in Joel is the same as the purpose statement in Rev. 9:2021.  In Joel 2:12-14 He says, “Even now, therefore, urgeth Yahweh, Return unto Me with all your heart tear your heart and not your garments, and return to Yahweh, your Elohim, for gracious and compassionate is He, slow to anger and of great kindness, and He regrets over the evil.  Who is knowing, if He will return and regret, and let a blessing remain behind Him…”

In Rev. 9:2021, the purpose statement of the chapter was for them to “…change their mind (repent; change their perception and thinking) from out of the works (acts) of their hands TO THE END THAT they may not worship the demons and the idols (forms)…”  This would not be the purpose of Satan or his demons, else he is divided against himself.  With a paradigm that this chapter portrays the purpose and work of God’s army, let us look at the specifics of the symbolism.  Another purpose here may be that which is stated in Ezk. 38:22-23, “And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood… and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.  THUS WILL I MAGNIFY MYSELF, and SANCTIFY MYSELF… AND THEY SHALL KNOW THAT I AM THE LORD.”

In ch. 9:1, at the message of the 5th agent, John saw another star which had fallen out of heaven into the land.  Recall the sounding of the 3rd agent (ch.8:10) and the star named Wormwood.  So he sees another sign in the heavens another meteorite signifying a move of the heavens upon earth.  To this agent is given the key (access and control) of the Well of the Deep.

The word translated well is used in John 4:11, 12, and numerous places in the O.T. to speak of a well having water; a source of water.  But if the well is dry, it could be considered a pit.  Thus frear means a well, a cistern, a pit, or a shaft.  I chose the word “well” because of its frequent connection with water in the LXX.

The next term we need to investigate is the word “deep,” also being translated by the word “abyss,” and “bottomless.”  This last term arose from the concept that some places on earth (such as places in the oceans, some lakes, etc.) were so deep that their bottom could not be discerned, and so were thought to perhaps be “bottomless.”  The term “abyss” is merely a transliteration of the Gr. abussoV.  It too means something very deep.  Thus, the most correct translation of the Gr. phrase in vs. 1 and 2 is “the well of the Deep.”  To come to an understanding of the Scriptural meaning of this figure, let us look at its usage.

Its first use is in Gen. 1:2,But the earth was invisible (unseen) and unbuilt (unprepared; not ready), and darkness [was] up upon (over) the Deep, and God’s Spirit was bearing (conducting) Himself over upon the water.” (LXX)

The next occurrence of the word is in conjunction with the flood in Gen. 7:11, “…on this day all the springs (fountains) of the Deep were broken up…” (LXX)

In Gen. 8:2 we find that, “And the fountains of the Deep were closed up, and the flood-gates of heaven, and the rain from heaven was withheld.” (LXX)

We next see the word used in Deut. 8:7, “For the Lord thy God will bring you into a good and extensive land, where there are torrents of waters, and springs (fountains) of the Deeps (pl.) issuing through the plains and through the mountains.”  Here it would seem that the Deep was considered to be the source for the springs and rivers of the land.

In Deut. 33:13 we see that the Deeps (again pl.) are part of the blessings with which Moses blessed Joseph, “And to Joseph he said, ‘His land is of the blessing of the Lord of the seasons of sky and dew, and from springs of the Deep below.’ “ (LXX)

“But whence has wisdom been discovered?… it has neither indeed been discovered among men.  The Deep said, ‘It is not in me.’  And the sea said, ‘It is not with me.’ “ (Job 28:12-14, LXX)  So here the sea and the Deep are put in association.

The Lord asks Job, “But have you come upon the spring of the sea, or walked about in the footsteps (tracks) of the Deep? (Job 38:16, LXX)

“He makes the Deep boil like a brazen caldron; and He regards the sea as a pot of ointment and the subterranean part (Tartarus) of the Deep like a captive: He counts (regards, reckons) the Deep unto a range for walking about.” (Job 41:2223, LXX)

Ps. 33:7, “…Who lays up the Deeps in treasuries.”  “…Thy judgments are as a great Deep.” (Ps. 36:6, LXX)  Ps. 42:7, “Deep calls upon Deep, unto the Voice of Thy cataracts: all Thy billows and thy waves have gone over me.”

In Ps. 71:20-21, we see the term used figuratively and applied to events in this life.

“What afflictions many and sore hast Thou showed me!  Yet Thou didst turn and quicken me, and brought me again from the Deeps of the earth.  Thou did multiply Thy righteousness, and did turn and comfort me, and brought me again out of the Deeps of the earth.” (LXX)  Here it is used of a place of afflictions (pressures, tribulations), but it is not the final place, for when the tribulations were finished he was QUICKENED.

In Ps. 76:16 we see that the Deeps can be agitated and troubled when they see God, even as the waters see Him and fear.  Are these speaking figuratively of mankind, and the deep places within him? 

In Ps. 104 we see some interesting descriptions, “Who dost robe Thyself with light as a garment.Who covers His chambers with waters; Who makes the clouds His chariot…The Deep, as a garment, is His covering…” (vs. 2,3,6, LXX)

Ps. 106:9, “…so He led them through the Deep as through the wilderness.”

Ps. 107:23-26, “They that go down to the sea… these have seen the works of the Lord, and HIS WONDERS IN THE DEEP…They go up to the heavens, and go down to the Deeps; their soul melts because of troubles.”

Ps. 135:6, “All that the Lord willed, He did in heaven, and on the earth, in the sea, and in all the Deeps.”

Ps. 148:7, 8, “Praise the Lord from the earth, you serpents (dragons), and all Deeps.  Fire, hail, snow, ice, stormy wind: THE THINGS CONTINUALLY PERFORMING HIS WORD.”

Prov. 3:20, “By understanding were the Deeps broken up…”

Prov. 8:22-24, “The Lord made Me [Wisdom] the beginning of His ways, unto His works.  He established Me before the Age, in the beginning, before He formed the earth, even before He constructed the Deeps…”

Isa. 51:10, “Art Thou not It [the Arm of the Lord, vs.9] that dried the sea, the water, the abundance of the Deep, that made the depths of the se a way of passage for the delivered and the redeemed?”

Isa.63:13, “He led them through the Deep, as a horse through the wilderness…”

Ezk. 26:19, “For thus saith the Lord God, when I shall make thee a desolate city… when I have brought the Deep up upon thee.”

Ezk. 31:4,15, “The water nourished him, the Deep made him grow tall… In the day wherein he went down into the Unseen, the Deep mourned for him.”

Amos 7:4, “Thus has the Lord showed me; and behold, the Lord called for judgment by fire, and it devoured the great Deep, and devoured the Lord’s portion [Jacob, vs.2, 5].”

Jonah 2:6, “Water was poured around me to the soul: the last Deep compassed me…”  All the above OT references were from the Septuagint and use the same Gr. word abussoV that is used here in ch. 9.

The only occurrence of this word in the Gospels is in Lu. 8:31. Here the situation is where Jesus came to the region of the Gerasenes (some MSS read “Gadarenes”) and was met by the man who was host to a legion of demons.  “And they entreated Him to the end that He would not order (arrange upon) them to go away into the Deep... that He would permit them to enter into [the herd of hogs], and He permitted them.” (vs. 31, 32)  In vs. 33 we see that once the demons were in the hogs, the whole herd rushed over a precipice into the lake, and the hogs drowned.  Interesting to note in vs. 29 that when they were in the man that, “he was driven by the demon into the deserts.”  This would be a place away from water, or the Deep.  Something about the Deep apparently held fear for them.  Vs. 29 states that Jesus had commanded them to come out from the man, and thus he was continually asking that He would not examine (test, as with metals, by use of the touchstone) him.  We are not told what happened to the demons when the hogs cast them, and themselves, into “the deep” of the lake at hand.  Whatever the case, vs. 31 tells us that the demons did not want to go into the Deep.  Thus it would not appear that this was their home, their origin, or the normal realm of their existence.  To thus assume that it is demons that come out of the Deep in Rev. 9, seems inconsistent.  The Deep here in Luke seemed to spell their doom to them.

One of the most interesting statements involving the Deep – and the only other place it is used in the N.T. outside of The Unveiling is found in Rom. 10:7.  “The quotation in 6-8 is a free citation from Deut. 30:11-14.  Paul recognizes a secondary meaning in Moses’ words, and thus changes the original expressions so as to apply them to the Christian faith-system.  His object in the change is indicated by the explanatory words which he adds.” (Vincent)  “Or, who shall descend into the Deep? that is, to lead Christ back up from out of dead ones.” (Rom. 10:7)  Again quoting Vincent, “[The] Septuagint [reads], ‘Who shall pass through to beyond the sea?’ Paul changes the phrase in order to adapt it to the descent of Christ into Hades.  The two ideas may be reconciled in the fact that the Jew conceived the sea as the abyss of waters on which the earth rested.  Compare Ex. 20:4 [‘… the waters under the earth’].  Thus the ideas ‘beyond the sea’ and ‘beneath the earth’ coincide in designating the realm of the dead.”

In Rev. 11:7, the two witnesses are killed by the little animal (little wild beast) that “is continuously rising up out of the Deep.”

In Rev. 17:8, the scarlet little beast “… is continuously on the point of rising up out of the Deep, and is to be continuously led away (drug under) into destruction.”

Now, in Rev. 20:1, please note that the agent with the key of the Deep is descending out of heaven (is this another view of the same scene that John saw in ch. 9:1?).  Then in vs.3 this agent (who in vs. 2 has seized and bound the dragon, “the original serpent that has been from the beginning,” who is a devil and an adversary {Satan}) cast the adversary into the Deep, then closed and sealed over it.  The Deep, where he is bound for 1000 yrs., is referred to as his prison (or, ward; place of custody where he is watched), from whence he is to loosed for final use before being cast into the lake of fire.

What then can we conclude from these references to “the Deep”?  1) it is a place where Satan is bound;  2) demons don’t want to go there;  3) an agent from heaven controls it;  4) Christ can descend to the dead there and then captivate the captivity there (Eph. 4:8,9);  5) it can encompass a person, but one can be brought out of it again;  6) the children of Israel were led through it it is compared to a wilderness;  7) it is a source of springs of water;  8) it is a source of blessings and prosperity;  9) it is a source of God’s judgment;  10) it brings praise to the Lord;  11) His wonders are seen in it;  12) it is His covering, as a garment;  13) it was covered with darkness until God bore Himself (brooded) upon it;  14) it was a blessing in the promised land;  15) they are in His treasuries;  16) they call upon one another;  17)  they were collected together into synagogues (Gen. 1:7,LXX);  18) they have footsteps;  19) they are places where God does His will;  20) a little beast continually rises up out of it.

With the concept of “bottomless” in mind, Ray Prinzing has referred to it as a place where one has no “footing,” no place to stand, no Rock upon which to build – until Christ goes there.  The picture here in ch. 9 reminds us of an erupting volcano: a furnace pouring out smoke.  But this is God’s kiln, His smelting pot that He has made to “boil as a caldron.”  It is the source of His transforming judgments.  His presence is evidenced by the pillar of smoke (as with Israel of old).  Once again we see His army of locusts, as in Joel, bringing judgment that the people of the land may learn righteousness.  These are unusual locusts, for they do not eat vegetation, but rather they return man’s injustice back upon himself.  This is not for their death, but to test and examine them as metal is tested, and this for only a short period [some have suggested that the 5 months corresponds to the life cycle of a locust].  They bring the pressure and discomforts which make men long for death (Job 3:21-23; Jer. 8:3).

But who are these locusts, God’s army?  “Awake, awake clothe yourself with splendor, O Arm of the Lord!  Awake as in days of old  as if former ages!  It was you that hacked Rahab in pieces, that pierced the Dragon.  It was You that dried up the Sea, the waters of the great Deep; that made the Abysses of the Sea a Road (Way) the REDEEMED might walk.” (Isa. 51:910, Tanakh)

These locusts (devourers) are like battle horses: remember the opening of the first four seals?  They are crowned with golden wreaths: symbol of overcomers.  Their identity (faces) is given: they are men.  But these also have the glory of women (a woman’s hair is her glory I Cor. 11:15); are these restored to completeness, having the qualities of male and female, as did Adam before the separation?

They have the power of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah in their words (lion’s teeth in their mouths).  Their armor is strong as the iron staff of the overcoming shepherds.  The sound of their wings identifies them: “… behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” (II Kings 6:17)  Recall Joel 2:5, above.

In vs. 10 we see that these have tails like scorpions, with stingers, and that it is with these that they are commissioned to hurt those who do not have God’s imprint in their foreheads: the mind, identity and character of Christ.  The sting can be translated “goad.”  Keeping in mind the purpose statement of vss. 20-21, along with the fact that their purpose was not to be killing these men (vs. 5) but rather to be testing and examining them, is this pain from the stings meant to “goad” them toward repentance?

Are these “horse-like,” consuming warriors God’s “cowboys” that He uses to round up His mavericks?

In I Ki. 12, when Rehoboam succeeded Solomon as king, Jeroboam and the assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and asked him to lighten the load that Solomon had put upon them.  Part of his ultimate reply to Israel was, “My Father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.” (vs.14)  Thus we see the scorpion used as a metaphor for increased pain, discomfort, and a heavier burden to bear.

Scorpions were a part of the environment of the wilderness journeys that the Lord brought Israel through (Deut. 8:15). Thus, as God processes His people through their interior wilderness, the testing and examinations can bring pain and discomfort.  But it is only for a time, and has the element of grace present (5 months: 5 being a numeric symbol for grace – Prinzing).  In those areas of our lives where He has overcome us and we now have the victory, this “second death” will no longer hurt us and He will give us authority in that area “… to be treading upon serpents and scorpions and upon all the power (ability) of the enemy, and nothing shall be injuring you under any circumstances.” (Lu. 10:19)

God uses the scorpion as a metaphor for irritating or abusive people, casting them in the same category as briers and thorns [“Vivid images of those who would make life difficult for the prophet” NIV Study Bible] in Ezk. 2:6, “And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words.  Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions.”

So here in vs. 10, their tails are compared to scorpions, while in vs. 19 the tails of the horses are compared to serpents.  Note that the locusts which were compared to horses in vs. 7 have power to hurt in both the head (having lions’ teeth) and the tail (having stings in their tails, vs.10).  The metaphor is changed a bit when the picture is seen of the four agents being loosed (vs. 15), and now we have two vast cavalries whose purpose is to be killing the third of the men.  What started as pain and discomfort now intensifies to the point of death.  But the metaphor is picked up again, and these troops are described as horses (vs. 17).  These, like the locusts, have authority that “exists in their mouth and in their tails.” (vs.19)

The staff (rod) of Moses, symbolizing his power and authority, became a serpent when God had him cast it to the earth (Ex. 4:2-4).  It is interesting to note that God had him pick it up “by the tail,” which is not the normal or safe way to pick up a snake.  It is by the tail, the last part of the body, that God will bring His judgments to His people.  The head did not come to judge, but to give His life a ransom for many.  Recall how God judged Israel with burning serpents (seraphim serpents), and how the brass serpent that Moses put on the pole – which only had to be looked at and seen for them to live was a type of Christ lifted up upon the cross (Num. 21:4-9; and John 3:14).

In vs. 11, we are told that the locusts have a King over them.  The only king over natural locusts is God.  Here, the King of these symbolic locusts is Destruction, A Destroyer.  The name Abaddon comes from the Heb. root Abad, or, Avad.  “It is used to describe the downfall of nations, the withering away of crops, and the fading away of strength, hope, wisdom, knowledge and wealth.  It is applied to the destruction of temples, images, and pictures.” (Lexical Aids to the O. T., Spiros Zohiates The Heb.- Gr. Key Study Bible)  Behind all these is God.  God was the Power that brought the various forms of His creation as plagues against Egypt.  In speaking of the final one, Moses writes, “And Jehovah hath passed on TO SMITE the Egyptians, and hath seen the blood on the lintel, and on the two side-posts, and JEHOVAH hath passed over the opening, and doth not permit THE DESTRUCTION to come into your houses to smite.”

(Ex. 12:23, Young)  In the same ch., vs.13, He said, “… when I see the blood I will pass over you, so that no plague will destroy you WHEN I STRIKE THE LAND OF EGYPT.” (Tanakh)  Then in vs. 29, “And it came to pass at midnight that YAHWEH smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt (Roth.)

The Heb. verb “Abad” is used in the following passages:

Deut. 11:4, “And what He did unto the forces of Egypt in that He caused the waters of the Red Sea to flow over their faces and so Yahweh destroyed them

Ps. 5:6, “Thou wilt destroy them who speak falsehood

Ps. 9:5, “Thou hast destroyed the lawless one

Jer. 15:7, “Therefore have I winnowed them I have bereaved – I have destroyed My people: from their own ways have they not returned.”

Ezk. 6:3, “And say, ‘Ye mountains of Israel Behold Me! I am bringing upon you a sword, and I will destroy your high places.’ “

Deut. 28:63, “And it shall come to pass that as Yahweh rejoiced over you to do you good and to multiply you, SO will Yahweh rejoice over you, to cause you to perish and to destroy you

Jer. 1:10, “See!  I have set thee in charge this day to uproot and to break down and to destroy and to tear in pieces, to build and to plant.”  [the work of a prophet]

I think the point is clear, that we should “…Fear Him, Who, after having killed, Has authority to cast into Gehenna.  Yes, I tell you, Fear Him.” (Luke 12:5, Diaglott)  From what we saw regarding God’s control over the Deep, is it not logical that this “Agent of the Deep” would be a figure of the Power and Authority of God ?  Remember Who has the keys of the Unseen and death (Rev.1:18)?

As to the name Apollyon, which is a participle form of the Gr. apollumi, which means to lose, be lost, to destroy, be destroyed, let us look at a couple places where this verb is used.  Matt. 16:25, “For whoever may want to save his soul will destroy (lose) it; but whoever may destroy (apollumi) his soul on My account will find it.”  Here it is those who are wanting to come after Jesus (vs.24) must become Destroyers of their own souls via their own crosses.  A similar statement is recorded in Lu. 17:33, “Whoever may seek to build a perimeter around (construct a protecting shelter around) his soul will destroy it; but whoever will destroy it will bring it forth (birth it) a living one (a living creature cf Rev. 4:6ff).”  This verb is also used in Jude 5 where it speaks of what Yahweh did to those in the wilderness who did not believe.  He is the Destroyer.

But is the destruction by this One an end of the one destroyed?  Let’s let the Word speak for Itself: “But He answering, said, ‘I was not sent with a commission EXCEPT UNTO THE DESTROYED (apollumi) SHEEP OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL.” (Matt. 15:24).  “For the Son of Man has come to seek and TO SAVE THE ONE HAVING BEEN DESTROYED (apollumi).” (Lu. 19:10)

We should note that His body those with His imprint within their minds are not affected by this first woe.  This is reminiscent of Israel in Goshen, who were exempt from the plagues.

In vs. 13 we come to the sounding of the 6th agent’s trumpet.  The scene has moved back to the tabernacle (or, temple).  It is the Holy Place, the location of the golden altar.  Now one voice is heard from out of the 4 horns of the altar of incense.  This speaks of a unity of the prayers of the universal (worldwide) body of Christ they pray in “one voice,” from the four directions of the heavens.  What is their prayer?  To “loose the four agents: the ones having been bound upon the great river Euphrates.”  This prayer comes from the place of power and strength (the horns) of this altar (this company).

In vs. 15 we see that the 4 agents were loosed at a specific time, down to the very hour of a specific day of a specific month of a specific year.  Their purpose for being loosed is clearly stated: “to the end that they may be continuously killing the third of the men.”  Which men?  I suggest that these are the same men as those in vs. 4: “those not having the seal of God (God’s imprint) upon their foreheads.”  Throughout the history of ancient Israel, when God brought judgment to Israel, some men were usually killed.  But as this is a book of symbols, is this then speaking of a physical death?  Or is this judgment, this death, the second death spoken of elsewhere in this book?  Is it the enforcement of the “baptism of fire” spoken of by John the Baptist; the baptism in “the lake of fire” spoken of in this book?

These 4 agents (messengers) have been prepared for this, and they are now made ready.  The time has come, and they are finally loosed.  But what is the significance of where they have been bound?  It was upon the northern and eastern border of the land of Israel, the great Euphrates River.  What is the significance of the Euphrates?  It speaks of the place of bondage of God’s people.  It was the border of their enemies, such as Babylon – which we see again later in this book, where also it is said, “You must come out from her, My people, to the end that you may not be a joint-partaker (fellow-participant; share in common together) in her errors (failures; sins), and to the end that you may not receive from out of her plagues.” (Rev. 18:4)  This, we will later see, has a physical application to the church coming out of Jerusalem before its destruction.

Of this passage (vs. 13-21) Barclay says, “This is a passage whose imagery is mysterious and whose details no one has ever been able fully to explain.  No one really knows who were the four angels bound at the river Euphrates.”  What I see here is a figure of 4 agents: four signifying the total coverage of the land covering the four directions.  I see these as a figure of the sons of God, who up to this hour have been bound at the very border of Babylon, who have not fully come out of her, and have remained in bondage in her, at the very border of the promised land.  Though they have not been able to operate within her system, and have not yet been birthed by the mother which is above (Rev. 12:5; Gal. 4:26 cf vs. 25: the Jerusalem which is now is in bondage with her children), into the land of the promise, part of their ministry is to bring judgment to God’s house (I Pet. 4:17)

Another aspect of the significance of the Euphrates river is that it is one of the 4 rivers of Eden (Gen. 2:14) and according to Holman’s Dict. means “bursting, sweet.”  Being bound upon this river of life/death is sweet, but within us is a bursting to be loosed!

In vs. 16, the number of the troops of the cavalry is given.  What is the idea of this number?  The significant number is TWO.  There are literally two groups, which I believe correspond to the TWO witnesses of ch.. 11.  These groups are transliterated as “myriads.”  Another place where this word is used is in the book of Judah (Jude), vs. 14, where he quotes Enoch as having said, “Behold, the Lord came (comes) WITHIN His holy myriads (innumerable multitudes), {vs.15} to execute judgment (to form or construct a separation, a distinction) concerning all, and to test (search thoroughly) the irreverent ones concerning all their irreverent works which they irreverently did, and CONCERNING ALL THE HARD THINGS which irreverent sinners (failures) SPOKE AGAINST HIM”.

Verse 17 begins a description of these groups.  Recall how Joel 1 spoke of locusts, then Joel 2 spoke of troops and horses to describe God’s army?  Note that this first part of this scene (the message of the 5th agent) used the figure of locusts; now in this 6th message the figure changes to troops and horses.

Let’s consider the specifics of their description.  Breastplates of FIRE: fire is a symbol of God; in God’s complete armor the breastplate is referred to as “righteousness” (Eph. 6:14).  This is a figure of their being armed with God’s righteous judgment.  This armor has the appearance of a precious stone and is a foundation stone of the Jerusalem which is above.  This armor also has the qualities of the Divine Character covering their hearts.

These horses are identified as being of the tribe of Judah, their heads symbolizing their Leader, the Lion of the tribe of Judah.  What they say (what continuously issues forth from their mouths) is the same as the TWO WITNESSES of ch. 11:5.  They speak God’s Word (Fire), with the evidence of God’s presence (Smoke cf Ex. 19:18), and express God’s Character and Nature (Deity).

As in the exodus of Israel from Egypt, these two companies bring plagues to smite this same third of the men not having God’s imprint.  His presence and nature brings death to the carnal man (as it has been doing in His firstfruits company who are now judging the twelve tribes of Israel, Matt. 19:28).

In vs. 19, we see that their authority exists in their mouth (symbolizing the Words which they speak; and also figuring their Head, Who originates these Words) and in their tails (a figure of the final part of the Body – the “end” time aspect of the ministry).

These end-time group are “like” serpents – they bring judgment, as did the burning (seraphim) serpents in Num. 21:6-9.  The tails of these horses have heads: a figure of the many sons the corporate Christ the end-time body which speaks this fire which inflicts justice: the return of their own works upon them the work of the Law, in its eye-for-an eye system which brings death and injures them.

We have already discussed vs. 20-21.  This is the purpose statement of this entire vision.  It is to bring about a change in their mind, in their way of thinking, in their perception.  It is to change it away from out of the works of their hands from what they DO to the end that they may not worship the demons and idols (forms) [all the things that they are involved in, in their daily lives: the material and the religious].

Vs. 21 lists some of their acts: murder, sorceries (employment of drugs), prostitution, and thefts.  “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer.” (I John 3:15)  This, too, was written to the churches by John in his first letter.  As to sorceries, this too was a charge against Babylon in ch. 18:23, an echo of Isa. 47:9 & 12.  Prostitution was a problem in the church at Thyatira (ch. 2:20) and at Pergamos (ch. 2:14).  We tend to think of such things only among the “heathen;” the “unsaved.”  Paul, in Rom. 2:21 chides those “who are preaching, ‘Do not steal,’ are YOU stealing?”  The things common in “the world” are also common among God’s people.

This book, “An Unveiling of Jesus Christ,” is written to, and applies to, the church.  God’s messages (here figured by the blowing of a trumpet) usually came to God’s people, or to the leadership in Babylon, when God’s people were in captivity there.  As Peter stated in I Pet. 4:17, God’s judgments begin at God’s house.

In our local gathering here, as we were first sharing regarding the significance of “the Deep,” our son Joshua, received a revelation that this could be applied to “the Deep” within each of us.  “First the microcosm, then the macrocosm,” is a phrase often repeated here.  Just as the horses of the first 4 seals were seen as riding through us, so too we can see application here of the inward working of the Forces directed by His Spirit to cause us to repent from the works of our hands, that we, the first-fruits, may not be worshiping demons and idols “which we have made.” (Lev. 19:4; 26:1)

One more witness regarding vs. 16: “The chariots of God are two myriads thousands repeated; My Lord is among them (Ps. 68:17, Roth.)

Outwardly, God uses other people, or nations, to bring judgment to His people (.e.g. the Babylonians in the O. T.; the Romans in the N. T.).  The Jews were branches that were broken off of the olive tree by the God (via the Romans) in A.D. 70.  But keep in mind that they can be grafted back in again.  In our lives He also uses other people to bring His fiery trials to purge His threshing floor (the inward work upon our self lives).

As the literal Jerusalem was judged because it had departed from God, may we not now, in this present age, as the New Jerusalem, need to be corrected?  Consider the conditions in the many “churches.”  Does not the “New Babylon,” the church system which has man and man’s structures and programs as the head, instead of Christ, also need to fall?  Will there be a “spiritual” army that will destroy the current abomination which makes His people desolate?  Selah.

In The Days of Vengeance, David Chilton, in considering ch. 8-14, says that this section “… dealt with the sanctions (curses and blessings) of the covenant (cf. Deut. 27:1-30:20).  In Deut., these sanctions are set forth in the context of a ratification ceremony, in which the Covenant between God and the people is renewed.  Moses instructed the people to divide into two groups, six tribes on Mt. Gerizim (the symbol of blessing) and six at an altar built on Mt. Ebal (the symbol of cursing)… Moses made it clear that this Covenant oath involved not only the people who swore to it, with their wives, children, and servants, but also with the generations to come (Deut. 29:10-15).

“Deut. 28 is practically the paradigmatic blessing/curse section of the entire Bible… When the days of vengeance finally came to that generation, they were cursed in every aspect of life (Deut. 28:15-19); smitten with pestilence of every sort (Deut. 28:20-26); visited with plague, violence, and oppression (Deut. 28:27-37); struck by poor harvests, economic reversals, and the loss of their children (Deut. 28:38-48); besieged by enemies and starved into cannibalistic practices (Deut. 28:49-57); enslaved and scattered throughout the nations of the world, living in fear and despair night and day (Deut. 28:58-68)…

“‘And all the nations shall say, Why has the LORD done thus to this Land?  Why this great outburst of anger?  Then the men shall say, Because they forsook the Covenant of the LORD…’ (Deut. 29:22f)…

“Thus, the central image of this section of Rev. is a Covenant ratification ceremony (ch. 10), in which the Angel of the Covenant stands on the Sea and on the Land, lifting His right hand to heaven, swearing an oath and proclaiming the coming of the New Covenant… under ‘the Lord and His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever’ (Rev. 11:15).”  These thoughts represent a preterist interpretation of this section.

Foy Wallace (The Book of Revelation), on ch. 8:7-9:21, spends a chapter in his book effectively associating the symbols of this section with those of the OT.  One of his concluding remarks on this vision is, “It was therefore in harmony with all the facts, scriptural and historical that the mighty cavalry… was the immense Roman army which marched against Jerusalem… foretold by Daniel and depicted by the Lord in pointing up the fulfillment.”  He also holds the preterist view.

Bruce Metzger (Breaking the Code) says, “… the overall intention of the sounding of the 7 trumpets is to bring people to repentance…. there is great emphasis on God’s patience and mercy.  Instead of total destruction, only 1/3 (9:18) or some other fraction of the whole is affected.  The fraction is symbolic of the mercy of God.  The calamity is not universal but leaves those who can learn from tragic events.”

So I have here presented two interpretations of this chapter: the preterist view of a literal application of these symbols to Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and a figurative view of God’s inward dealing with men and His church at all times and in every place.

 

A STUDY ON REVELATION, Chapter 9 [Jonathan Mitchell] ~ BIBLE STUDY          1

 

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