Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Abyss

Revelation 9 The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. 2 When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. 3 And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. 4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 They were not allowed to kill them but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes. 6 During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.

As the fifth and six trumpets are sounded by the fifth and sixth Angels, there are many terrible things that begin to happen. It is a challenge to try and understand what all these instruments of judgment like locusts might represent.

Here is what one commentary sayw about the angel who opens up the Abyss,

"It is not nown whether this “star” that fell from “the sky” is Satan, a fallen angel, Christ, or a good angel. Most likely it is a good angel, because the key to the shaft of the Abyss (bottomless pit) is normally held by Christ (1:17-18), and it was temporarily given to this other being from heaven (see also 20:1). This being, whoever he may be, is still under God’s control and authority. The Abyss represents the place of the demons and of Satan, the king of demons (9:11).".

And the locusts,

"Most likely these locusts are demons—evil spirits ruled by Satan who tempt people to sin. They were not created by Satan, because God is the Creator of all; rather, they are fallen angels who joined Satan in his rebellion. God limits what they can do; they can do nothing without his permission. Their main purpose on earth is to prevent, distort, or destroy people’s relationship with God. Because they are corrupt and degenerate, their appearance reflects the distortion of their spirits. While it is important to recognize their evil activity so we can stay away from them, we must avoid any curiosity about or involvement with demonic forces or with the occult." (Life Application Bible Study Notes)

Like yesterday we see that although the judgment is harsh and far reaching, it is not the final judgment. We also see that God allows some of these dark angels to inflict God's punishment. But these events are still under God's sovereign control and limitation. So although evil is real, it is limited in power and location.

At the end of the chapter, the rest of mankind who witness all the suffering, but do not repent from their wickedness with idol worship and immorality. Although God desires all people to be saved some can be so in bondage to sin that they are unwilling to repent. This reminds us of how dangerous it is to dabble in sin and think we can repent whenever we want. There is power in sin which we should never underestimate, as well as our vulnerability to it.

Finally, in verse 4 above the locusts could harm anyone except those with the seal of God on their forehead. A few chapters back, those who were sealed represented the ones God had chosen for Himself. It reminds me of when we baptize infants and adults, we take the oil and anoint them with a cross on their forehead saying, "You have been marked with the cross and sealed by the Holy Spirit forever!" What a great reminder of how we have been chosen in Jesus Christ and marked in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is where the power of ritual reminds us of who we are when tribulation comes our way.

Take some time in your family to mark each other with the sign of the cross and remind each other that you are marked by the cross of Jesus and sealed with the Holy Spirit forever. Satan and his demons can't touch you!

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