Friday, February 19, 2016

Revelation 9:1-11

The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. – Jude v. 6
As a three-fold “Woe” was unleashed through the last three of the seven trumpets, terror flowed out of an abyss and poured across the earth. In John’s vision, it began when a fallen star was given permission to open the abyss and retrieve the beings and demons that had been trapped there. The one who came to unlock the abyss is described in ways that match the language used by both Isaiah and Jesus.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God…Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. - Isaiah 14:12-15

And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. - Luke 10:18

Here this fallen star or angel appears to be Satan, and he is given permission to unlock the abyss and release those demons that have been imprisoned there. Although scripture is not explicit on when or how these specific demons were locked away in the pit, we do see some indications that certain demons were in fear of being locked away during the ministry of Jesus.

And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. – Luke 8:30-31

Here the demons being cast out begged Jesus to not send them into “the deep.” The words “the deep” clearly don’t mean the sea, because after Jesus cast the demons out of the man, they went into some pigs and ran into the ocean. Here, Jesus clearly had the power and the option to banish these demons to this locked-up pit that we see in Revelation 9, and in this instance He didn’t. This abyss, or pit, must have been filled with the worst of the worst of the followers of Satan. Now, in the last days, permission was given to unlock the pit and release its inhabitants to attack the inhabitants of the earth.
As these vile beings poured out of the abyss, they unleashed an unbelievable terror on mankind. Miraculously, for five months, no human being was able to die. This would be a spectacularly wonderful thing for all those involved if it weren’t part of the God-ordained punishment of their unbelief and rebellion. However, their miraculously extended lives were filled with hellish agonies. As the demons flooded out like swarming locusts, they were given the ability to sting those who had somehow survived the torments of the Tribulation up to this point.
The astonishing preservation was blended with excruciating pain. 
Why would God do this? Why wouldn’t he just sweep with a coup degras and wipe out all of these people? Why allow them to continue to suffer? The key reason that we can find in the context is that there were those around them that were unscathed by these demon attacks that were declaring the gospel to them. This was God being longsuffering. The most gracious thing that He could do was to bring them to despair. Instead of striking them dead and replacing their temporal pain with eternal punishment, He extended temporal pain that they might turn in desperation to Him and be spared from everlasting pain. For five months the terrors of the fifth trumpet deluge rolled across the earth in darkness and agony so that those who had not turned would be given yet another chance to repent and believe.

Reflect: From Luke 8 and Revelation 9, who do we see as unquestionably in power over Satan and his demons?