Staring Into the Abyss – Revelation Chapter 9

Why have the pulpits stayed away from teaching…preaching from The Revelation to John?  We seem to hear about Heaven in messages, but Hell…not so much, if at all.  And did you know, that “Hell” is mentioned in Scripture more than Heaven is?  So in my reading and study in Revelation this month, I’m sharing my understanding in Chapter 9 beginning with the Fifth Trumpet Judgment:

REVELATION 9:1-21

The chapter begins with a STAR falling from heaven and being given the KEY to the Abyss.

Revelation 9:1 (NIV)

[1] “THE FIFTH ANGEL sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star had fallen from the sky to the earth,  The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss.”

There are those today who use this kind of apocalyptic language when they speak about what to fear today.

To my friends in Great Britain…those who are freaked out about what Brexit will bring and here in the United States…what President Donald Trump might bring about as ‘staring into the Abyss’.

In the culture of the Apostle John’s day, the ABYSS was considered to be the place of the dead and the demonic.  [See footnote [i].]

The STAR (Rev. 9:1-2).

It’s important to notice in verse 1 that the word “star” isn’t being used literally but figuratively.

How do we know that?

Well, deductive reasoning comes into play.

The “star” is given the KEY to the shaft of the Abyss and in verse 2 is referred to as “he”.  You can’t hand an actual star a key, but you can hand it to a being.

So who’s the Star then?

There are several times in Scripture where STARS refer to angels.

In Revelation 20:1 at the end of the Great Tribulation, an angel comes down from heaven;  “he was holding the key of the Abyss (the bottomless pit) and a great chain was in his hand” [AMP}. 

 I believe in the study that this is the same angel as in Revelation9:1.  This angel returns the KEY through the Tribulation.

I’ve read some commentaries that say the STAR refers to Satan on the basis of Isaiah 14:12:  “How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn!  You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations.”

The reason why the “star” in verse 1 can’t be a reference to Satan is that Satan will not be thrown down to earth until Chapter 12 of Revelation, and only then will he have no access to God’s immediate presence where he goes to accuse the brethren as he did in Job 1.

So it has to be the FIFTH TRUMPET ANGEL who in 20:1 of Revelation comes down out of heaven with the KEY to the Abyss.

The ABYSS (“bottomless pit” KJV), is NOT Hell or Hades.

I’ve read commentaries by scholars in the past that believe the Abyss may be the bottom of the great gulf fixed in Hades.  This is the gulf that separates the place of torment and the place of comfort we read about in the story of the rich man and Lazarus.  As a side note, remember that Ephesians 4:8-10 tells us that Jesus cleared out Paradise.

Scripture supports that Hades included both Hell AND Heaven (Abraham’s bosom, or what Jesus and many of the everyday Jews of His day referred to as Paradise).

According to Jesus, in between the TWO was “A great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.”  (Luke 16:26) [See footnote [ii].]

Abasos (bottomless) appears seven times in Revelation.

It is always in reference to the place of residence to the incarcerated DEMONS (9:2, 11; 11:7; 17:8).

Satan himself will be held there during the Millenial reign of Christ, chained and locked-up with the other demonic prisoners (20:1, 3).

God is SOVEREIGNLY chosen to place DEMONS in the Abyss for the purpose of punishment.

We don’t have much information as to what the PIT might look like other than the CREATURES that come from this “bottomless pit”.  

It’s important to note there are TWO types of DEMONS described in Scripture.

  1. Those that are FREE to roam the earth.
  2. And those that are confined to a certain place in Hell.

The FREE Demons – (Matthew 12:43-45)

There are those “unclean (evil) spirits” that seek to indwell the bodies of people.

This is the “evil spirits” that were cast into the PIGS by Jesus.  [Reference]: https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/thats-a-lot-of-pork-chops/

Evidently, these DEMONS travel in groups and there must be many of them.  Apparently over a thousand “evil spirits” possessed the wild man of Gerasa, because they gave themselves the name “Legion” (Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-29).

I believe these “evil spirits” are the fallen angels and we need to understand that they are real.  The good news for Christians is we cannot be possessed by a DEMON because the Holy Spirit possesses us.  Although, if we are not following Jesus daily, we can be influenced by these evil spirits.

The IMPRISONED DEMONS – (Jude 1:6-7) 

[6] And angels who did not keep (care for, guard, and hold to) their own first place of power but abandoned their proper dwelling place–these He has reserved in custody in eternal chains (bonds) under the thick gloom of utter darkness until the judgment and doom of the great day.

[7] [The wicked are sentenced to suffer] just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the adjacent towns–which likewise gave themselves over to impurity and indulged in unnatural vice and sensual perversity–are laid out [in plain sight] as an exhibit of perpetual punishment [to warn] of everlasting fire.  [AMP]

These fallen angels have been imprisoned.  I’ve read in commentaries where scholars believe that these are the ANGELS who violated the laws of God–“took wives of all they desired and chose” from the “daughters of men” [Genesis 6:2, Amplified Bible].

These are the fallen angels referred to as “the sons of God”.  Their offspring have been called the Nephelium who were giants.  There are some controversies with this thinking, but that’s another study.

In 2 Peter 2:1-10 we find more confirmation of these imprisoned demons.

The Greek word for HELL in 2 Peter 2:4 is “Tartarus”, which is a portion of HELL.  Some Bible teachers believe that this is also the Abyss.

The First Woe – Revelation 9:2-10.

The Abyss is opened and there is so much SMOKE, it became “smog like” in appearance.

In 1967-2001, my family lived in Costa Mesa, California, south of Los Angeles.  There were days that the smog conditions were so bad that your eyes burned, lungs were affected, and a dense haze closed in as a squeezing bench vise.  I haven’t been back to the area since then, so I don’t know if the conditions have improved.

Out of this “SMOG” in Revelation 9, come locust-like scorpion creatures.

They will be shaped like LOCUST, likened to horses, have faces like men, hair like women, and teeth as lions.

These creatures have breastplates of iron and their wings are like “the roar of a vast number of horse-drawn chariots going at full speed into battle.”  [Rev. 9:9; Joel 2:5]

They also possess stings in their tails like scorpions.

It’s been suggested that these might be helicopters armed for war.

Although, you might see some similarities in this description and John would have no idea what a “helicopter” was, personally, I still believe these are literal creatures.

Some would say that no one on earth could see them because they are “spiritual creatures”, but that doesn’t add up in study after reading Joel 2:6 – “At the sight of them, nations are in anguish; every face turns pale.”  

In Joel 1-2 we find this scene being prophesied.  You should make time to read these two chapters and I believe you’ll get a better picture of how terrible this JUDGMENT will be.

The Destroyer (Apollyon) – Revelation 9:11

In VERSE 11 we find the angel of the Abyss and the king over these terrible creatures.

Although the above IMAGE comes from an artist’s imagination, it still captures the essence of the character portrayed in Scripture.

His Hebrew name (Abaddon) and his Greek name (Apollyon) are both given.  Both names mean “Destroyer”.

This fallen angel must be of high rank in Satan’s army.  Now don’t be led astray here in believing this is Satan, himself because Satan isn’t locked up in the Abyss.  He’s roaming around like a lion, seeking who he can devour [1 Peter 5:8].

As Satan always tries to copy God, I believe Apollyon is probably equivalent to an Archangel in Heaven.  The main thing here is to notice, just as his leader’s goal is to DESTROY, so is his!

The Torment – (Revelation 9:5-6)

Notice that these CREATURES will not kill those who they sting.  The STING will torment them for five months.

The PAIN is so bad during this time period that they will wish there were dead and think they will die, but they won’t.  Maybe the reason they won’t die is so that they will get some of their attention and submit to Jesus Christ as Savior.

Joel 2:12-13

[12] “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

[13] Rend your heart and not your garments.  Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

I also believe that some may notice certain people are NOT stung by the creatures.

In Revelation 9:4 we’re told that the CREATURES were instructed to only sting those who don’t have the seal (mark) of God on their foreheads [AMP].

This means that just like the plagues of Egypt, God’s people are not harmed during the JUDGMENT.  As far as what the “seal” or “mark” is…that’s another blog-discussion.

As terrible as this JUDGMENT is, we can see that God is giving people another opportunity to follow Him.

Maybe you are reading this without Jesus.  God is giving you an opportunity.

Don’t wait until it’s too late!

And, Christians, as always:  Be urgent about sharing the Gospel message.

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [I]:  “Revelation 9: Are We Heading Into the Abyss?” – By David Peterson, in Christian Today, Jan. 3, 2017.

Footnote [ii]:  Devotions.com – “Bible Indicates Paradise Was Once Part Of Hades”.

Blog’s Photo/Images:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) – Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 By Biblica, Inc., except where indicated in the text.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“HELL NO!” ~ (Part Two)

“HELL NO!”

In Part One, “I’m A Basically Good Person”, of the study in Luke 13:19-31, we left at discussing the message that Jesus imparts in the parable:  “There are two and only two eternal destinies, HEAVEN and HELL!”  The truth discussed begins on how HEAVEN is pictured in the parable, if it really was a parable.  If it is a parable, it is the only one in the Bible that specifically gives identities: The rich man and Lazarus.  But the Bible makes it very plain; there also is a place of eternal judgement called HELL! After my wife and I came to know our Lord and Savior in August of 1972, Dianne was struggling with the concept of an actual place of hell.  Here religious exposure had told her there wasn’t such a place; God wouldn’t have such a place designated for a place for His children; for all people our God’s children.  As the truth became real to her, the idea of people she knew in life; friends and family, who were not saved, could go to such a place for eternity.  Reality began to set in and it was hard to know and understand the truths presented to her.  Acceptance came after a while and she could finally sleep soundly, praise God! One of the first Scriptural references, revealing the second of two eternal destinies, after both being saved together in 1972, was found in 2 Thessalonians 1:8, 9 “To deal out retribution upon those who do not know or perceive or become acquainted with God, and who ignore and refuse to obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.    Such people will pay the penalty and suffer the punishment of everlasting ruin (destruction and perdition) and eternal exclusion and banishment from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” “The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour of which he is not aware,    And will punish him and put him with the pretenders (hypocrites); there will be weeping and grinding of teeth”  (Matthew 24:51–Amplified Bible). JESUS MAKES IT PLAIN! There is also a place of eternal torment called HELL!  Jesus uses the Greek word Hades scholars debate; Hades (and the Hebrew ~ Sheol) was the abode of all dead; separate compartments for the righteous and the wicked, or whether it refers only to the place for the wicked dead.  We can’t get dogmatic about such specifics.  One certainty that we can count on is, hell is a real place!  You don’t want to spend an eternity there!  Mark Twain said, “I’ll take Heaven for the climate and Hell for society.”   But there won’t be any society in hell.  Jesus uses awful word pictures to teach us, it isn’t going to be a fun place.  He refers to it in Matthew 25:30 as an “outer darkness” [no light at all] and “there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”  Not a pretty picture!  He also cites Isaiah 66:24 in Mark 9:48.  He says, it would be better to have a millstone hung around your neck;

A “Millstone” around the neck!

thrown into the sea than going into the unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43). THE RICH MAN in Luke 16:24 If the realm of the dead (Hades), had been a “fun place”, he would want his five brothers to join him for the party.  But he doesn’t want them to: “For I have five brothers–so that he [Lazarus] may give [solemn] testimony and warn them, lest they too come into this place of torment”  (16:28). THE DOCTRINE OF ETERNAL PUNISHMENT Eternal punishment in hell is not pleasant.  But you cannot accept Jesus and reject hell. because He taught it plainly and frequently.  R. C. Sproul wrote (“Tabletalk” [11/90]):   The fact is, however that virtually every statement in the Bibleconcerning hell comes from the lips of Jesus Christ.  We cannottake Jesus seriously without also taking seriously what He saidregarding eternal punishment. POPULAR VIEWS NEEDING REJECTION #1.  UNIVERSALISM:  “The view that everyone will eventually be saved.”          An universalist says, “A good and loving God could not condemn anyone to hell.  There is some good in even the worst people.  God will take that into account so that no one will be condemned.” (my wife before becoming SAVED, accepted this teaching from a cult she had attended). But the universalist underestimates the awful sinfulness of the human heart and the absolute holiness of God. The rich man is not an evil man in human terms.  He wasn’t a mass murderer or a child molester.  He wasn’t deliberately hurting people.  He was just living for himself, oblivious to the poor man at the gate.  And yet here he is in a place of eternal torment! The second popular view to reject: #2.  “ANNIHILATION ISM“:  The view that “God will destroy the unrepentant sinner so he ceases to exist.”            In other words, the soul is not immortal.  God will eventually say, “That’s Enough!”  God will annihilate the person’s soul; the person will not suffer eternally. The idea sounds humane and appealing, but cannot dodge Matthew 25:46:  “Then they will go away into eternal punishment, but those who are just and upright and in right standing with god into eternal life.” Jesus uses the same word “eternal” in the same verse referring to eternal punishment [Also, see Revelation 20:10, 15). The third popular view the verses in Luke 16 refute is: #3.  THE DOCTRINE OF PURGATORY:  “Teaches that when a believer dies, unless he has attained a state of moral perfection on earth, he goes to an intermediate place; where he suffers until all sin is purged away.  The sufferings vary according to the guilt, the impenitence of the sufferer.  Gifts and church services, prayers on behalf of the dead, Masses provided by friends and loved ones can all shorten the amount of time a person spends in Purgatory.” So while it is a hard doctrine to unravel intellectually and emotionally, we can’t say that we believe in Jesus and the Bible and at the same time reject the doctrine of eternal hell. There are two and only two eternal destinies, the basis for a person’s eternal destiny fixed on this present life.  The fact of a fixed destiny; a great chasm fixed (16:26). Abraham says to the rich man, in hell there is a great chasm fixed between those in heaven and those in hell.  None can cross from one side to the other.  Not only does this mean there is no Purgatory, it also means there isn’t a second chance after death.  The Book of Hebrews states: “And just as it is appointed for [all] men once to die, and after that the [certain] judgement”  (Heb. 9:27). As someone has said, “there are no unbelievers in hell.  They just believed to late!” JESUS PICTURES THE FINAL OUTCOME Without spelling out the details of the future; resurrections of the body, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:8, believers being absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  There is no such thing as “soul sleep”, waiting for the resurrection of our bodies at His second coming. The souls of unbelievers go immediately to a place of torment, awaiting the Great White Throne judgement; when their bodies are raised and thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:11-15). Before death, a person can move from spiritual death to eternal life.  But once a person dies, his eternal destiny is fixed.  He goes either to heaven or to hell.  No crossing over from one place to the other side.  There is a great chasm fixed! THE BASIS OF A “FIXED DESTINY” :  REPENTANCE AND FAITH Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin.  You cannot have one without the other! Repentance is a change of mind; not just an apology.  It’s turning of the whole person from one direction to the other; from sin to God. Faith is “the practical expression of the confidence in God and His Word” — by Creflo A. Dollar. A person who has truly believed in Christ as their Savior will live a life of repentance and growth in godliness.  The fact that this rich man never showed concern for Lazarus, even though he had walked past him every day with ample evidence; his faith was an empty profession.  He never repented of his selfishness.  The rich man may have protested by saying, “How was I to know that I should take care of this poor man at my gate?”  God’s Word is a sufficient witness to lead a person to repentance. The rich man’s plea to Abraham was to send Lazarus to warn his brothers.  And Abraham’s reply was, they had what they needed to repent from Moses and the Prophets; from the Scriptures.  But the rich man protests, “that’s not enough!”  They need something more spectacular, more miraculous.  Send them a man risen from the dead, to preach to them.  Then they will repent.   But Abraham insist that Scripture is a sufficient witness. REPENTANCE IS A MORAL ISSUE Repentance is a moral issue, not an intellectual one.  The rich man had known what God’s Word says concerning the poor and the needy.  But he made a choice to ignore this hurting man on his doorstep.  He blames God in effect, that he had not been given sufficient witness; “If you had just sent…”  The fact was, he didn’t want to inconvenience his comfortable lifestyle to comfort this poor man. Invariably, when you’re sharing the gospel, a person raises an intellectual problem.  It’s not the true problem being stated.  Steven Cole gives one way to deal with this situation by asking the person, “Are you saying that if I can provide a reasonable answer to that problem, you will repent of your sins and trust in Christ as Savior and Lord?”  The answer almost always is, “Well, there are other issues, too.”  Then say, “Great, make a list and I’ll see if I can find reasonable answers.  Then will you become a Christian?” Repentance isn’t the result of having all your intellectual questions answered.  Repentance and faith in Christ hinge on the recognition that you are a sinner and you need a Savior.  We need to make it clear to people if they die without repenting of their sins and trusting in Jesus the Christ, they are fixing their eternal destiny in hell and not heaven.  OUTWARD APPEARANCES CAN BE DECEIVING  (16:15b) What is exalted and highly thought of among men is detestable and abhorrent in the sight of God.” In the sight of men, the rich man was successful.  Lazarus was a loser.  The rich man lived well, enjoyed the finest things available in life.  Lazarus was miserable with dogs licking his sores.  The irony here, Lazarus was eternally rich and the rich man was eternally bankrupt. A Sunday School teacher told his class the story of the rich man and Lazarus.  He asked them, “Now, which would you rather be, boys–the rich man or Lazarus?”  One boy replied, “I’d like to be the rich man while I’m living and Lazarus when I die.”  Wouldn’t we all!  But of course, it doesn’t work that way.  You can’t live for selfish pleasure in this life, disobeying God’s Word and expect to live with God in heaven when you die. But, the good news is, when you repent of your sins, living in obedience to Jesus, you will find great pleasure for a time and eternity; no matter what your earthly circumstances.  As Jesus said, in Luke 9:25,  “For what does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and ruins or forfeits (loses) himself?”  CHOICES TO MAKE  Two different destinies lie before you; a great chasm fixed between them: I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses”  (Deuteronomy 30:19). CHOOSE LIFE, to follow Jesus; that “you and your descendants may live.”