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 YES,” OR “HELL NO”?

My son and I when together love to discuss and look at Scripture with an invisible magnifying glass. My wife has sometimes referred to both of us as the “Biblical Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson” with our sometimes heated discussions.  Here is but one example of discussion regarding spending an Eternity in HELL:

My son:  “How could a loving God send someone’s soul and spirit after death to a place like Hell?  I’m not confident that there is an actual place of eternal fire for the unsaved.  I think that HELL is just a metaphor, a manufactured location by the Church.”

Awhile back ago, there was a SURVEY taken of 7441 Clergy concerning their belief in HELL:  58% of Methodist, 60% of Episcopalians, 54% of Presbyterians and 35% of American Baptists.   They believe collectively that HELL is NOT a location after death for the lost, but the experience of self-estrangement, guilt, and meaninglessness in this life.

I don’t know about your belief in a place called Hell, but I know what the BIBLE really says!

Hell Is A Place Beneath Man

EZEKIEL 31:16

[16]  I will make the nations quake at the sound of its fall when I cast it down to Sheol with those who descend into the pit…God is speaking of Assyria. `

AMOS 9:2

[2]  Though they dig into Sheol (Hades, the dark abode of the gathered dead), from there shall My hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down  (Amplified Bible).

Psalm 55:15

[15] Let desolations and death come suddenly upon them; let them go down alive to Sheol (the place of the dead), for evils are in their habitations, in their hearts, and their inmost part  (AMP).

David calls this on his enemies knowing that GOD had once done this to Moses’ enemies (Num. 16:30-34).

Matthew 11:23 (NIV)

[23] “And you Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens?  No, you will go down to Hades [the realm of the dead]…

Speaking of the indifference to Christ and His work.

HELL is a place of Eternal Fire –

An Eternal Flame in the Karakorum Desert

God speaks of His JUDGMENT of Sin in Deuteronomy 32:22 (AMP):

[22] For a fire is kindled by My anger, and it burns to the depths of Sheol, devours the earth with its increase. and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.

Matthew 18:9 (NIV):

JESUS speaking on REPENTANCE instead of going to HELL–

[9]  And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the FIRE of hell.

Luke 16:24 (AMP) – JESUS speaking of the rich man…

RICH MAN speaking: [24] “And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have pity and mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in the FLAME.”

THE PEOPLE OF HELL, WHO ARE THEY?

ANSWER: ALL People and Nations Who Forgot God

PSALM 9:17 (AMP):

[17] The wicked shall be turned back [headlong into premature death] into Sheol (the place of the departed spirits of the wicked), even all the nations that forget or are forgetful of God.

[Bible Hub-Psalm 9:17, The Treasury of David]:

How solemn the seventeenth verse, especially in it warning to the Forgetters of God. The moral who are not devout, the honest who are not prayerful, the benevolent who are not believing, the amiable who are not converted, these must all have their portion with the openly wicked in hell, prepared for the devil and his angels.  There are whole nations; the forgetters of God are far more numerous than the profane…and according to the very forceful expression of the Hebrew, the nethermost hell will be the place into which all of them shall be hurled headlong.  FORGETFULNESS seems a small sin, but it brings eternal wrath upon the man who lives and dies in it.

“HELL …NO!”

Even the “religious” can make it into HELL!

Matthew 23:33:  “You snakes!  You brood of vipers!  How will you escape being condemned to Hell?”

The Proud and Haughty–

Proverbs 16:18:  Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

And in case you are wondering…there’s plenty of room in HELL.

Isaiah 5:14, 15:  [14] Therefore Death expands its jaws, opening wide its mouth; into it will descend their nobles and masses with all their brawlers and revelers.  [15] So people will be brought low and everyone humbled, the eyes of the arrogant humbled.

HELL, a place for the devil and his angels–

2 Peter 2:4:  For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment;

[SEE Matthew 25:41]

The Permanence of Hell–It is Eternal Vengeance

JUDE 7:  In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion.  They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

JUDE 11:  Woe to them!  They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.

The EARTH opened up and took Korah and his family to hell.  [Numbers 16:1-3. 31-33]

Those who do evil to us as true believers of Jesus Christ will pay a price of eternal magnitude.

2 Thessalonians 1:7-9

HELL IS A PLACE OF ETERNAL TORMENT –

Revelation 14:11 (AMP):  And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no respite (no pause, no intermission, no rest, no peace] day or night–…

Matthew 25:46 (NIV):  “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

This QUESTION has been asked and discussed by many over the years regarding eternal destination for all:

“Do babies, infants, go to Hell when they die?”

In order for me to answer that question, I must find a biblical example of when an infant died, and in which his or her ETERNAL DESTINATION is recorded.

In 2 Samuel 12, king David’s newborn son fell terminally ill and after 7 days the child died.  Let’s read and listen to a father’s words in verses 22-23:

It is clear that David’s dead infant son never returned to this earth, but David also said that ONE DAY, he would go to be with his son.  Through inspiration, David writes in the Psalms

Through inspiration, David writes in the Psalms where his own eternal destination was going to be with his son in the “house of the Lord” (Ps. 23:6).

“Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place” (AMP).

KING DAVID was looking forward to the day when he would be able to meet his son in heaven.  There is absolutely nothing in this context that gives any hint that dead infants’ SOULS go to Hell.

“HELL, NO!” is the answer: Do babies/infants souls go hell?

Wishing Away the Reality of Hell Won’t Fly Either –

The Bible is clear in the O.T. and the N.T.

So, is HELL a real place of pain and torment? YES! But, it is also a place where lost sinners will spend eternity.

It’s not God’s fault that humanity sins.  But it is God’s JOY & PLEASURE to offer humanity a way out, a way that is provided through the LOVE of His Son, Jesus Christ.

So the CHOICE has to be made by you where you are in life:  “HELL YES” or…”HELL NO.”

If you are not saved, today is your day!  But, if you are, then you are given the responsibility to SHARE this message with them.

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CREDITS:

Commentaries:  [1] Bible Hub – Psalm 9:17;  [2] Apologetics Press–Do Babies Go to Hell When They Die?

PHOTOS:  Google Advanced Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) and Amplified Bible (AMP).