In chapter four of the book of Revelation, we were taken into the heavenly scene where John beholds the throne of God, the cherubim about the throne as they worship God and the twenty-four elders as they respond to that worship.
In chapter five, we see the scroll with seven seals within the right hand of Him who sits upon the throne, the scroll being the title deed to the earth. An angel proclaiming who was worthy to take the scroll and loose the seals. We recognize that no man is worthy, no man can redeem the earth. And John in the prospect of the earth going unredeemed begins to sob until the elder said, “Don’t weep. Behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed to take the scroll and to loose the seals.”
So we see Jesus as He steps forth and takes the scroll. And we hear the reaction, first of all, the redeemed, the church, who sing of their redemption through His blood and His worthiness to take the book and loose the seals. And then we hear the angels, one hundred million strong, plus millions of millions as they join in the chorus of worthiness to the Lamb and to Him who sits upon the throne.
Then in chapter six, we see as He begins to loose the seals of this scroll. And as He looses the seals of the scroll, we see the corresponding judgments that take place upon the earth. The first seal bringing forth the antichrist, the white horse and his rider. The second seal bringing forth wars, desolations. The third bringing famine, and the fourth bringing death. And we see that in the first four seals, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, as they are often called, one quarter of the earth’s population being destroyed.
The fifth seal introduces us to a multitude of people under the altar of God who are saved out of the Great Tribulation. They are asking God how long before God avenges upon those of the earth who had slain them, brings His vengeance upon them. And they are told that they are to wait a short season until their number be complete and they are given white robes, and thus, comforted.
In the sixth seal we see a cataclysmic, catastrophic kind of judgment upon the earth described in the book of Joel, described in Isaiah, described by Jesus, as they talk about the stars falling from heaven, the islands being moved, the surface of the earth being changed in a geographical sense as this great cataclysm takes place.
Now we come to chapter seven, and before the seventh seal is opened, we have now here a little parenthetical kind of a side exposition as John sees these four angels holding back the winds of the earth that they should not blow on the earth nor the sea, nor any tree.
And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea. Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads (7:1-3).
Now we know that during the Great Tribulation or during the seven-year period, of which three and a half years would be designated the Great Tribulation. Now during the first three and a half years of this period, when the antichrist is setting up his power, his kingdom, that God has two witness, which we will be introduced to in the eleventh chapter, who bear witness for forty-two months or three and a half years. During the time of their witness, they shut up the heavens that it rained not during the time that they are witnessing. This lack of rain, of course, will probably be one of the instruments that will perpetrate the great famine that we have in the third seal. It could be that the holding back of the winds by these four angels is that which causes the rain to cease.
You see, we have our hydraulic cycle where the ocean waters are evaporated into the atmosphere and then carried by the winds over the lands. Whereas the clouds begin to cool, the gases condense and form into rain that fall to the earth; and thus, the earth is watered in this hydraulic cycle. It is a beautiful engineering plan of God to water the earth. But if the winds were held back, then the water that would evaporate into the atmosphere would not be carried over the earth and would probably start being sustained within the atmosphere itself, again causing some very interesting atmospheric kind of phenomena, as the water would again be suspended in a greater concentration in the atmosphere.
Here are four angels standing in the four corners of the earth. And the word "corners" is probably a poor translation. The Greek word is translated in the present time into quadrants. And we talked about the four quadrants of the earth, which is the north, east, south and west. So you have your north wind, east wind, south wind and west winds, the four quadrants of the earth.
People who are always looking to find fault with something in the Bible, and they say the Bible was reflecting the superstition or the intelligence of the day, because they say the four corners of the earth. So evidently John believed that the earth was flat, and thus you have the four corners and he was guilty of the flatter theory. Thus, you can’t rely on the Bible because it does have fallacies, such as the four corners of the earth.
Well I saw a sign that said the Marines were in the four corners of the earth, so you can’t trust the defense department, because they don’t realize that the earth is round. They think that it has corners.
No. The idea is the quadrants; north, east, south and west. But interestingly enough, the physicists and all now declare that there really are four corners on the earth. The earth isn’t actually round. The poles are flattened somewhat to make the bulge at the equator. So, the earth is more of an elliptical shape, but the bulge actually creates about four corners of the earth. And that is one of the latest declarations of those men who study such things.
But it is talking about the four quadrants, four winds; the north, east, south and west winds. And it is interesting to me that these angels, and they must be very fascinating creatures, have the power to hold back the winds that they blow not. Here they are holding back the winds, but they are told by this other angel who ascends from the east, having the seal of the living God, crying with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, “Don’t hurt them until we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.”
And I heard the number of those which were sealed: and there were one hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel (7:4).
Now that is very plain isn’t it? How many are sealed? One hundred and forty-four thousand. Who are they? Of all of the tribes of Israel. What could be plainer than that?
Now a lot of people have trouble with the book of Revelation, because they say, "Well, you can’t understand it." You see the one hundred and forty-four thousand doesn’t really mean one hundred and forty-four thousand. It is a symbolic number of twelve times twelve thousand. And twelve being the number of human government. And they start getting into it further and further and further, so it means that one man is going to rule one month during the thousand years of the kingdom age, and all kinds of weird speculations.
And of course, the Jehovah Witnesses think that they are the one hundred and forty-four thousand. And Herbert W. Armstrong in his plain truth of the World Tomorrow says, “No, we are the one hundred and forty-four thousand.” And if you will double and triple tithe to the church of God, you can become one of the hundred and forty-four thousand, the inner circle. And when the precise time comes we will send you a telegram that you can flee to this wilderness where we have prepared survival for the one hundred and forty-four thousand.
So, they are trying to be the one hundred and forty-four thousand, as the Jehovah witnesses are trying to be the one hundred and forty-four thousand, and many other groups have tried to take this identity upon themselves. But obviously in doing so you have to disregard the text itself and you have to start reading into the text, and say, “Well, God didn’t mean what He said. That is all symbolic language in a spiritual sense, and we are spiritual Israel, and I'm of the spiritual tribe of Aser or Benjamin or whatever.” Just to keep this kind of speculation from taking place the Lord then lists the twelve tribes.
Now, you are familiar with the fact that there are actually thirteen tribes, are you not? You remember when Jacob came to Joseph in Egypt, having thought he was dead for many years, now discovering him to be alive and one of the leaders of Egypt, Jacob, this elderly man came down to Joseph and when Joseph came to his father Jacob he brought his two sons Ephraim and Mannaseh. And Jacob said unto Joseph, “These two sons are mine. Whatever sons you have born after these can be yours, but these two sons are mine.” And he claimed the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Mannaseh. So Ephraim and Manneseh both became tribes in Israel.
So, the tribe of Joseph is divided into two, the tribe of Ephraim and Mannaseh. So the Levitical tribe became the thirteenth tribe, but was usually not numbered among the tribes. For instance, in the division of the land there was no portion for Levi, because the Lord was their portion. So, the land was apportioned into twelve sections, one for each of the tribes. And Ephraim and Mannaseh both received their allotments.
Now as a rule, you don’t read of the tribe of Joseph because it was divided into two tribes. Here we find the tribe of Joseph and the tribe of Mannaseh. So when it refers to the tribe of Joseph, no doubt it is the tribe of Ephraim, because Mannaseh is also listed as being sealed, the twelve thousand here in the seventh chapter.
So the interesting thing is that the tribe of Levi is also listed here, but the tribe of Dan is thus omitted. Dan was the first of the tribes to go into idolatry. If you go into the tel of Dan in northern Israel today, they have excavated quite a large area of pagan worship, as the tribe of Dan was the leader in idolatry, the first tribe to go into idolatry. And it could be that that is the reason why God has not sealed them from some of the things that are going to transpire during the Great Tribulation period. You will find as we move along in the book that the one hundred and forty-four thousand that are sealed are protected divinely by God from many of the judgments that are going to come upon the earth.
So twelve thousand of each tribe, the tribe of Judah being listed first because Rueben lost his birthright. Because of going into his father’s concubine he lost his birthright and it was given over to Judah. And to Judah was given the scepter that Judah should be the reigning tribe. And of course we know that David came from the tribe of Judah and then Jesus later, who was that branch out of Judah the stem of Jesse that would arise, the branch of Jesse that should come out of Judah, the Lion of the tribe of Judah. So the tribe of Judah listed first and then Reuben who was the oldest son but lost his ranking, and of Gad and each of the sons the twelve thousand and after this, verse nine.
So that is the one hundred and forty-four thousand. They are sealed now. Later on we will come across them again as we see them protected from various judgments that are coming.
After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all the nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, they were standing before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And they cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb (7:9-10).
Now interesting they are clothed with white robes and palms in their hands and what is their cry? Salvation.
Now we remember another crowd with palms in their hands and their cry was the same. Hosanna means salvation, or “save now” literally. They were crying salvation unto the Lord. So there is a lot of similarities between this crowd and that crowd on the road from Bethany to Jerusalem on the day that Jesus made His descent from the Mount of Olives on a donkey and the disciples were waving palm branches and the multitudes there were saying, “Hosanna, Hosanna: Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Salvation, salvation, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.
So here is a crowd now in heaven, a great number of them; however, these are from all over the world, from all of the various races, ethnic groups. Their cry is the same, “salvation to our God, which sits upon the throne and unto the Lamb”.
And all of the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell before the throne on their faces, and worshiped God, Saying, So be it: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen (7:11-12).
Now when the church sings its song of redemption, verse nine of chapter five, they sang the new song saying, "thou art worthy." The angels respond to that song in worship saying, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive the power and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” Here are the same things with a couple of differences. To the churches’ song they refer to riches, for interestingly enough, the Lord considers us as His treasure. Paul prayed for the Ephesians that they might receive a Spirit of wisdom and understanding. That they might know what is His riches in the saints, or you might know how much God values you.
You remember the parable of Jesus concerning the kingdom of heaven was likened to a man going through the field and discovering a treasure and who, for the joy thereof, went out and sold everything so he could buy the field and have the treasure (Matthew 13:44). “Now the field”, Jesus said, “is the world”, and He was the one that gave everything. He gave His life to purchase the world in order that He might obtain the treasure. “So if you only knew”, Paul said, “how highly the Lord treasures or values you”. And Peter writing says, “We are His peculiar treasure.” Well it is peculiar to me that God would take such value in me, that God would treasure me, but we are His inheritance.
So when the church declares its song, we are His inheritance, His riches. When this group sings, thanksgiving is substituted for riches, and so that is the difference in the response to the two groups. As the angels respond to the second group, the response is not of riches, but of thanksgiving. Interesting little difference here. They are different groups.
We do not see the church here in chapter seven, but we see those who were in chapter six under the fifth seal who were martyred during the Great Tribulation for their testimony. Who were crying for vengeance on those who dwelt upon the earth, who were given white robes and told to wait for a short season until their full number be complete. They were saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, before we can enter into the heavenly scene.” The Lord gave them white robes and said, “Wait until your full number is complete and you can come in.”
Now we see their number is completed and we see them entering into the heavenly scene. And this is really taking us on out to the end. In chapter seven, as we have this little vignette, it is one that now takes us out and shows us the whole picture and then we will come back to the seals again as we get to chapter eight. So this is just a little side view, a side journey and a view of this little segment here on out to the end.
So the angels respond to their song of salvation, worshipping God and ascribing to God the blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power and might unto our God for ever and ever. So be it.
Now, one of the elders asked John a rhetorical question, saying,
What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and where did they come from? (7:13)
Who are they, John, and where did they come from? And it was a rhetorical type of a question that was designed to open the door for an answer. It wasn’t really looking to John for an answer, but it was just designed to open the door to give the answer to John.
And I said unto him, John said, Sir, [Kurios, often translated “Lord”] thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them (7:14-15).
Now we find that ultimately these are to receive all the rights and the privileges of God’s redeemed people, the church. At the present time, they were not allowed to come into the scene in chapter six, the fifth seal. Now that they come in, they come in, in a serving capacity, serving Him in His temple day and night. Where as the church is reigning with Him and the promise to the church is that they would reign with Him. “Unto Him that loved us and purchased us with His blood, we shall reign with Him.” These are serving Him there in the temple of God and He that sits upon the throne shall dwell among them.
Now they came up out of the Great Tribulation, which means that they were no doubt martyred during this tribulation period. And we will read where when the antichrist takes over, he is going to bring in a new economic system which requires everyone receiving a mark, and no one being able to buy or sell without that mark. However, anyone who takes the mark will be consigned to a hopeless eternal future, no hope for salvation for anyone who takes the mark of the beast. So they have power, though, to put to death those that refuse to take the mark. Of course not being able to buy or sell, you can probably starve to death quite easily. So, a great number of people will be saved after the church is raptured.
Now there is an indication that those that will be saved after the rapture are those who had never heard the Gospel before. That indication comes from Paul in writing to the Thessalonians, his second epistle, talking about the coming of the antichrist, he declared, “that because they did not want to believe the truth, God gave them over to deception that they would believe the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:11). So those that have consciously and willingly rejected the truth that is in Jesus Christ, when the antichrist comes, will bring a strong delusion and God will allow them to be deluded, because they did not want to keep the truth.
But there are perhaps two billion people on the earth today who have never heard the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. During this period of time, the message of salvation will be declared by the hundred and forty-four thousand that have been sealed; it will also be declared by angels flying through the midst of heaven. And among the two billion people who have never heard the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ, there will be many who will receive the witness and the message of the one hundred and forty-four thousand and of the angels and will be saved, martyred, and brought into the heavenly scene. A great number that no man could count, we are told from all over the world, from all of the nations, kindreds and people and tongues.
So, an interesting group in heaven. John did not recognize them. Had they been the church and the elders said, “Who are these? Where did they come from?” John would have said, “Well, that is the church. I know them. I am a part of that group.” But he did not recognize them, because they are a saved multitude that are not the church. Thus to John, it is a mystery, but the mystery is explained by the elder. They came up out of the Great Tribulation. They were martyred during the Great Tribulation period, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more (7:16);
As we proceed on into the further judgments of God that are going to come upon the earth, we find that the fresh water supplies are going to be polluted, so that men will have a real scarcity of water. Not only if it doesn’t rain for three and a half years, that is going to deplete the water also. Imagine what would happen even here in Southern California if there were three years without water. It wouldn’t take long to use up our supplies. There will be a great famine with no rain, the droughts. The crops will fail, but they will hunger no more. They have gone through hunger in the time of tribulation upon the earth. They have gone through thirst.
neither shall the sun light on them (7:16),
God is going to give power to the sun to scorch men who dwell upon the earth.
For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto the living fountains of water: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes (7:17). Now, the little side vignette is over and we come back to the scroll with the seven seals, the title deed to the earth that Jesus is opening to prove His right to redeem.
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour (8:1).
Silence can sometimes be an awesome thing, especially in a tremendous crowd of people. You see what silence for fifteen seconds does. It seems like it expanded, quiet. It is sort of an awesome thing. And there in heaven with vast multitudes singing and worshipping and seeing all of the activity that is there, and suddenly there is silence when this seventh seal is opened. It is sort of an awesome time.
Now, out of the seventh seal there will proceed now seven trumpet judgments. In these pyrotechnic displays during the Fourth of July, you seen these skyrockets burst open with a big flash, but from that there will be a secondary puff. Just about the time the big one begins to fade, the second one comes out of it with another flash. Well, that is what we have here. The seventh seal is opened and puff, here comes the second series of seven judgments. Out of the seventh seal, the seven trumpets now burst out. When you get to the seventh trumpet, then the seven vials of God’s wrath, which complete the plagues, will be bursting out and coming forth.
And so the silence of about the space of a half-hour in heaven, just before now, this second series of judgments.
I saw the seven angels which stand before God; and to them were given seven trumpets (8:2).
Now, we know that the cherubim are about the throne of God. There are four of them. Satan used to be one of the cherubs. They seem to be the highest of God’s created beings in an angelic form. The next highest are the archangels of which the Bible speaks of two. Michael, called the great prince, an archangel. Gabriel, when he announced himself to the father of John the Baptist, Zacharias, he said, “I am Gabriel who stands in the presence of God”(Luke 1:19). There are seven angels that stand there in the presence of God, who are dispatched by God on particular missions.
Now in one of the apocryphal books of Enoch and also Tobec, Rafael is also named as one of the seven angels. Also in Enoch is named Uriel and Sacral and he names a couple of others, but here are seven angels who stand before God and to them were given seven trumpets.
And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne (8:3).
I believe that this other angel is Jesus Christ and we see Him now in His work as a mediator there in heaven as our great, Great High Priest.
Now, you remember on earth the high priests would go in and offer before the Lord the sacrifices for the people. And within the temple daily the priest would go in and would take these little incense burners with the coals from the altar and offer them, and the smoke of the incense would arise before the altar, which was called the mercy seat which was outside of the Holy of Holies. Daily they would go in and offer this incense.
Now, the earthly tabernacle was a model of heaven, as we have told you. So again, now we see the actual scene in heaven of which the earthly tabernacle was the model. But we see this angel, who as I say I believe to be Jesus, with a golden censer offering with much incense the prayers of all of the saints upon the golden altar, which is before the throne of which the altar in the tabernacle of the mercy seat was a model.
And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand (8:4).
So, here are the prayers of the saints again being offered before God as incense.
Now, we found this happen back in chapter five, when the Lamb came took the scroll out of the right hand of Him whom sat upon the throne. The elders took the little golden bowls filled with odors, which are the prayers of the saints, and they offered them before the throne of God. That is when the church burst out saying, “Worthy is the Lamb to take the scroll.” But our prayers are often referred to as a sweet smelling savor unto God, that they ascend unto God as a sweet smelling savor. So, here again the prayers of the saints being offered with incense before the throne.
These are possibly the prayers of those souls which were under the altar in chapter five saying, “How long, O Lord, before you avenge our blood.” Now that God is going to pour out the second series of judgments, these prayers of the saints who were asking God to avenge their blood against those on the earth who had slain them, it could be that these are the prayers that are being offered at this time.
Back in chapter five, when Jesus takes the scroll, the prayers that are offered at that time are those prayers that were offered when you said, “Thy kingdom come thy will be done in earth even as it is in heaven.” Our prayers will be offered at that time, because when He takes the scroll, that’s the kingdom coming. That’s getting the earth ready to establish God’s kingdom. So, at that time those are the prayers that will be offered. Now, as we are getting ready to see these judgments, the prayers that those saints had offered for vengeance upon those who had slain them.
I often pray, “Lord, how long before you clean up this mess?” The corruption that is in the world, the corrupt people that are in the world, the corrupted morals. And when men kidnap a little girl three or four years old, abuse them and then kill them, I say, “God how long before you take vengeance on them, bring judgment on them?” I really get excited over these things and I really pray, “Lord, how long are you going to let this corruption go on?” The day is coming. God will judge the earth. Man will not get by with his iniquity.
So, the prayers of the saints upon the golden altar before the throne.
And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer, he filled it with fire from the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound (8:5-6).
And so we see a spectacular display of lightnings, thunderings, and an earthquake that proceed the sounding of the seven trumpets.
And the first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of the trees were burnt up, and all of the green grass was burnt up (8:7).
There is, in our solar system, an asteroid belt that does create great concern to many of the scientists and astronomers. Outside of Tucson, Arizona, they have established the Kit Telescope. In fact, it is quite a group of telescopes out there on Kit Mountain. And one of the main objects of research is that of charting and plotting and searching for asteroids that do present a real threat to the earth. There are some two thousand asteroids that have already been identified whose orbits can ultimately bring them into a collision course with the earth. There are another two thousand with the possibility of their orbits bringing them into contact with the earth.
The scientists are actually discussing preventative measures that might be taken should we discover one of these trajectories of the asteroids to be an immediate threat, say, within the next year or so. To send a, somehow, a space shuttle out there to try to somehow redirect the asteroid away from a collision with the earth, because an asteroid of one kilometer impacting the earth would do more physical damage than an all out nuclear warfare. The only thing it would not have would be the radiation after effects.
We know that the earth has shifted from its polar axis. We know that the northern area of the North Pole up in those areas, the Arctic Circle was not always an Arctic Circle. It was not always a frozen waste. It was not always covered with ice. For there in the ice they have found mastodons perfectly preserved, frozen there in the ice with tropical vegetation in their digestive tracts. It is believed by many scientists that the shift of the polar axis could have taken place as the result of an asteroid impacting the earth. They believe that the crater there in Arizona, outside of Windslow, that is three miles in diameter, five hundred and twenty-two feet deep, that this crater was formed perhaps by the impact of an asteroid. And that that was large enough, if the impact came at the right direction to have jerked the earth.
You take a ball that is spinning and suddenly you hit that ball with tremendous force. You can stop the spin of the ball or you can cause the ball to flip over. So, an asteroid hitting the earth would cause it to flip and suddenly these mastodons who were living sixteen hundred miles away from all of this polar Arctic ice would suddenly be frozen. The earth gets jerked in just a moment’s time sixteen hundred miles, and suddenly this tropical area is under this cold air mass of the pole and immediately they are frozen in this fifty, eighty below zero kind of flash freeze, as suddenly they are under this mass of arctic air. And they believe that that is perhaps the cause of the mastodons being found there. The polar shift taking place instantly, from some, perhaps impact of an asteroid.
Now, they have talked about disintegrating an asteroid with an atom bomb. If we see one that is going to impact, you go out there. But then they have talked about the problem, that if you blow the thing apart, then you are going to have several asteroids impacting. That would only compound the problem. But they are actually studying methods by which they can deter the asteroid from its orbit that would impact the earth. It is a tremendous concern of the scientists today. And we are spending millions of dollars in research and study to protect the earth from this kind of a danger that does exist.
The chances of an asteroid impacting the earth this year are three in a million. So, there is not much of a chance, but yet it is there. It does exist. They have impacted before. The scientists believe that in 1906 that great cataclysmic catastrophe in Siberia which flattened huge trees, laid them over like toothpicks for several hundred miles, they believe that that was perhaps an asteroid impact. It is a thing that is a threat and a concern.
Now it could be that in studying these phenomena that are taking place in these trumpet judgments, these things could take place as the result of asteroid impacts. You see, the last asteroid that came close to impacting the earth was back in 1937. We almost had a calamity then. The asteroid came within five hundred thousand miles of the earth. And of course, we were monitoring the thing and we didn’t know at that time, we weren’t able with computers to plot the trajectory enough to know whether or not it was going to impact. But a lot of people thought it was going to impact back in 1937. That was the last close encounter we had with an asteroid of any size. Of course, we find meteorites eighteen hundred per second coming into our atmosphere somewhere around the earth. That is quite common.
Now this year Halley’s Comet is returning. Behind Halley’s Comet is that tail that is a bunch of what they call space garbage, debris, but meteorites. And every August we have a beautiful, heavenly display usually around the 20th or 21st of August, or so, where we pass through the debris of the tail of Halley’s Comet left by its last orbit around this direction. And this junk that is there in space, we, every year pass through the orbit. When the earth orbits around the sun, when we get to that point where all the junk is, we see what we call the falling stars or the showers. And on many nights I have stayed out and watched the shower. It is really an exciting experience.
Now, Halley’s Comet will probably not be visible to us this year because it is going to orbit on the other side of the sun. We may be able to see a little bit of the tail as it moves away from us. As it begins to leave, the gravitational pull of the sun will pull off more of the tail and bring it into our solar system so that we could very well have some interesting meteorite showers and all in the next few years. As the sun will pull off a lot of the debris from Halley’s Comet, as it turns and starts to escape, not all of the tail will escape. A lot of the debris will be pulled by the gravitational strength of the sun. But this strong asteroid belt is out near the planet Jupiter, but sometimes they are pulled out of their orbit there and are brought into a collision course with the earth, and it is something that is being studied and it is quite interesting to the scientists.
Now, we find Jesus saying that the stars of heaven are going to fall like a fig tree casting forth its untimely fruit. In other words, some of these meteorite showers that we have seen are nothing to be compared with what is going to happen during the Great Tribulation period. And some of these things that are transpiring do sound like perhaps impact with asteroids and the effect that it would have. So, the first angel sounded followed by hail, fire, mingled with blood, and cast upon the earth.
Now remember the earth has gone through a period of three and a half years drought, so all the trees are very dry and all. And with this fiery shower hitting the earth, the trees and the dry grasses and all will be like tinder and a third part of them will go up in smoke.
The second angel sounded, and it was like a great mountain (8:8)
Now it does sound like an asteroid indeed.
a great mountain burning with fire falling in the sea (8:8):
Fortunate. Had it impacted on the land surface it probably would have created another polar axis shift. But this great mountain of fire, a huge meteorite or asteroid falling into the sea.
and the third part of the sea became blood (8:8);
It was probably the explosion of the thing. The disintegration into dust coloring the sea and turning into blood red like a red tide that we often see. And the result of it would be as the red tide, the killing off of the fish.
And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and a third part of the ships were destroyed (8:9).
The ships were probably destroyed by a title wave that would be created by such an impact. And the sea probably being the Mediterranean Sea and you had your yacht docked in the Mediterranean somewhere, you would probably lose the thing. A third part of them will be destroyed by this second trump of judgment.
The third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is Wormwood (8:10-11):
The word is also translated “hemlock”. It is a bitter poisonous substance.
and the third of the waters became wormwood [or poisonous]; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter [poisonous as a result of this third star, or the star falling from heaven, the third trumpet]. Now the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darken, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise (8:11-12).
So, it is quite possible that in this—if it is indeed a meteorite shower, and when these meteorites come into our atmosphere and disintegrate, they turn into dust. And it could be that a tremendously heavy shower could create so much dust in our atmosphere that it would actually begin to filter out the light of the sun. Even as when Mount St. Helens erupted and it became dark at noon, in several of the cities in Washington around Mount St. Helens, as that thing disintegrated to dust and really darkened the skies.
So, a heavy kind of meteorite shower, if it is like a fig tree dropping its figs in a wind, just a heavy shower of meteorites around the earth, disintegrating into dust could very well shade the sun for a time with all the debris in the atmosphere. And so the sun shone but for a third part. And the moon, of course, was just a reflection of the sun and the stars.
And I beheld, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabitants of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound! (8:13)
Now this word “angel” here is not the same word that we have been dealing with. “Aggelos”, which is messenger, but “aetos” which is also translated eagle. And in some of your translations you will find eagle. The eagle flying through the midst of heaven. But, you remember that the cherubim, one of the faces was that of an eagle. So, this could be both an angel and an eagle, or one of the cherubim. Certainly it is not an eagle as we know an eagle. They are not able to speak. This one flies through the heavens and warns all of the inhabitants of the earth. So, it is orbiting the earth no doubt, saying, “Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabitants of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound.” In other words, you haven’t seen anything yet. Four angels have sounded and we have had some pretty cataclysmic effects, but what is to come is even worse. “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth by the—
I had a parrot once that I trained to say, “Woe, woe, woe.” Old George would—I kept him here in the office for a long time until my secretary got tired of him and gave him away when I was gone on vacation. And when I came home there was no George. But he would say, “Woe, woe, woe, sinners.” He was a nice bird.
And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth (9:1):
And it is interesting how that a great mountain of fire burning, a star falling, a star falling, these are like fallen stars. That is why I relate them to perhaps asteroids or meteorites. I could be completely wrong. In other words, there are a lot of people who would like to sort of speculate, and in observed and knowable phenomena, these are not unreasonable. We know of phenomena that could create such things, such as impacting with asteroids or meteorites or whatever.
So the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fallen from heaven unto the earth or a fallen star,
and to him was given the key of the abyss (9:1).
That is the abyss, or abussos in Greek, which is translated bottomless pit. The translation bottomless pit is a correct translation of this word abussos. And it is probably right in the heart or the center of the earth, because right in the center of the earth you would be constantly falling. There would be no end to your fall, because as the earth is rotating you would be constantly in a state of falling, a bottomless pit then. Because you would never get to the bottom of the thing, you would be in the middle. If it is always turning around, you are continually falling but you are right there in the heart of it.
We do know that Hades is in the heart of the earth, so this is probably one of the compartments of Hades. This particular compartment is where God incarcerates demonic spirits. It is where the antichrist has been incarcerated. It is where Satan shall be incarcerated for one thousand years. It is where demons are presently incarcerated, but are going to be released upon the earth during this period of time. It is a place where the demons will later on be incarcerated.
When Jesus came to Gadara and there was that man who was filled with devils, demons and Jesus said, “What is your name?” And they said, “Legion,” because there was many. And they said, don’t send us to the Abussos, to the pit, before our time. Let us be free for a while longer. Now, they knew that there time was coming when they would be confined to the abussos, a compartment in Hades. As there is another compartment called Tartarus, a compartment in Hades, this one for fallen angels or demonic spirits where as Hades itself is for the rebellious man.
So, he sees the fallen star from heaven, who no doubt is Satan. He has the key to the abussos.
And he opened the [abussos] bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit (9:2).
So, somewhere upon the earth there is probably a fissure of some kind that goes down to the heart of the earth that shall be open, and as it is like a furnace, this smoke is going to ascend from the heart of the earth darkening the skies. As the skies were darken after the eruption of Kartoa and after the eruption of Mount St. Helens.
And there came out of the smoke creatures [demonic creatures] (9:3):
As John sees them, because they swarm in great clouds, they are like locust, in that they cover the skies and the skies become dark. And of course, in a part of the world they have plagues of locust that there are so many millions of them that it turns the skies dark as they invade an area. So, these are like a locust plague.
and to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth (9:3-4),
And of course that is the natural food of the locust.
neither any green thing, neither any tree [the general diet of the locust]; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads (9:4).
So, at this point God is going to start separating those that have His seal in their foreheads from those who do not, even as God made a separation in the plagues in Egypt. And, there was darkness in Egypt, but in Israel there was not darkness. Frogs in Egypt, but among the camp of the Israelites there were no frogs, frogs in their beds, frogs in their kneading troughs and so forth. They would knead their dough and just frogs everywhere, except in the area of Israel. God made a separation, a difference, and so He will again.
And to them it was given that they should not kill the people, but that they should be tormented for five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when it strikes a man (9:5).
Over there in the Middle East, of course upon the earth there are several varieties of scorpion, but there in the Middle East the scorpion there has a sting which is reported to be the worst pain of any sting possible. And these locusts have power to inflict this kind of a stinging torment like scorpions for a period of five months.
And in those days shall men seek death [the torment being so fierce men will seek death], and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them (9:6).
So, it is an interesting period when death takes a holiday for five months.
Now, death is an interesting phenomenon. It is something that we don’t fully understand, the mechanics of it. What does happen when the spirit of man leaves his body? Well, we say it is death. They have the EEG probes connected and they watch the little monitor and they watch the brain wave activity as it flutters there on the monitor and shows across the screen, but then when the line goes flat they will monitor it usually for twenty-four hours and then pull the plug. And when the oxygen is no longer being provided, if there is any life at all, the brain will start searching for oxygen and you will see a little flutter on the screen again and they will plug it back in, but if there is no flutter, the line stays flat, they say, “Well, he is dead.” The spirit is gone. The soul is gone. The conscience is gone. He is dead.
What releases the consciousness? What releases the spirit of man from his body? We see people who can live for years in commas. The spirit doesn’t leave. Yet, their body is there, but they haven’t the capacity of doing anything. They are just in a comatose state. Why hasn’t the spirit left? What keeps the spirit there? We don’t really know for sure.
Jesus on the cross dismissed His Spirit. He said, “No man takes My life from Me. I give My life. I have the power to give it and I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it up again. No man takes My life from Me.” And on the cross it said He bowed His head and dismissed His Spirit. He gave up His spirit. He bowed His head and said, “Okay, you can go”. Now, He had the power to do that.
There will come a time when your spirit will refuse to leave your body. And this could be one of the most awesome horrible periods of history. Imagine a person taking a .45 and putting it to his skull and pulling the trigger and blowing the back side of his head off and his brain is all over the room and yet he does not die, the spirit not leaving. And he goes around with this hole in his head, but he keeps on living. The spirit won’t leave. That could be horrible.
You see the real me is spirit. The body is the instrument that God has given to me whereby I can express myself. But the body is the medium of expression for me, but the real me is spirit. The real me is not the body. The real me is spirit. Through the body my spirit can express itself. And that is what God has designed. He has designed the body as the medium by which I can express myself to others and I can relate to others and they can relate to me. It is the medium by which we come to know each other, we come to appreciate and love each other, this medium of our bodies by which our spirits express themselves to each other.
Now, generally when through age, accident, illness, disease, or whatever, generally when the body can no longer fulfill the functions for which God purposed, when the body can no longer really express me, when the body gives me more pain and suffering than joy and pleasure, or when the body is so weakened that it can’t really express me anymore, then God releases my spirit from this body. And my spirit then moves into my new body, the building of God not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
But there is going to come a time when God is not going to release spirits for five months and people will actually seek to die, perhaps mutilate their bodies and under normal circumstances their spirit would have left, but God is going to let them go on in that condition for five months. As I said, that will probably be one of the most horrible periods in the history of the world, when for five months people can’t die.
Death is a blessing to the child of God. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Hey, it is a blessing for the child of God. I don’t want to go on living in this body after it can no longer fulfill the functions for which God purposed and designed. I don’t want to just lie in a bed just staring at the ceiling with needles and intravenous into me and oxygen and people come in to look at me and I'm just dah. And have to be there month after month and year after year for fifty, hundred, two hundred years you just lie there and just staring at the sky and can't say anything or do anything. That would be horrible. That would be hell. Death is a blessing.
When this old body gets to the place that it can’t function anymore, then God is going to release my spirit from it and that is going to be a blessing, not a curse. It would only be a curse if I weren’t a child of God, because then of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, he to be thought worthy, who had counted the blood of his covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and have done despite to the Spirit of grace. For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. So death takes a holiday. People are tormented.
Now, John is taken by the spirit to a day to the future in which he sees things he does not understand. He can only describe them in the language that he knows. Imagine a prophet being taken, say, into the midst of a battle in World War II, a prophet say in John’s day, taken by the spirit out into the future and dropped into the middle of a battle in World War II. He sees tanks and artillery. And he sees the planes, jets coming in and dropping bombs and all. How would you describe that when you don’t know what a plane, tank, ammunition or explosions are? How would you describe what you are seeing? You would be limited to your vocabulary and the language of your day in the things that you saw.
So, John now does his best to describe what he has seen, but if you are looking at demonic beings again, you are going to have to use language that is representative, but it falls short of a full and complete description. So, he tries to describe them somewhat.
And the shapes of the locust were like horses that are prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns of gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair like the hair of women [Sounds like some hippies, doesn't it?] and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle (9:7-9).
You are doing pretty good John, if you were trying to describe a dive-bomber coming in, the roar from the wings and all, like many chariots running into battle. Who knows what he is actually seeing. He describes as he can with the language that is available to him.
And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and they had power to hurt men for five months. And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit [or this fallen star], and his name in the Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek it is Apollyon (9:10-11).
And the words mean destroyer. So, another name for Satan, the destroyer, and oh what a destroyer he is. Look at this world. Look at men who have been destroyed by the power of Satan. “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth.”
One now has past; but, there are two more to come. And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God (9:12-13).
This altar of which the Mercy seat was a model.
Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men (9:14-15).
These fallen creatures, Satanic angels, so awesomely fierce that God has kept them incarcerated during these six millennia of man’s history, but in one hour he is going to release them. They have been held back for this one hour in which they enter the world to accomplish their mission. They are prepared for one hour of this particular day, of this month, of this year to slay a third part of men.
Now, in the first four horses of the apocalypse, the first four seals, one quarter of the earth’s population is destroyed. And now by these fierce angels loosed out of the river Euphrates another third of the earth’s population to be destroyed.
And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: [or two hundred million] and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and those that were sitting on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. And their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt. And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which can neither see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts (9:16-21).
And so the judgments of God do not really bring men to repentance. Man hardens his heart against the judgments of God. Paul said, “Don’t you realize it is the goodness of God that brings a man to repentance.” That is why I seek in my messages to preach of the goodness of God and emphasize the grace of God. It is the goodness of God that brings man to repentance. I do talk about the judgments of God that are going to come, because I would be derelict in my responsibilities if I did not, because that is a fact that must be faced.
However, I do not like to make that an emphasis of my ministry. And I don’t, because the judgments of God are only going to harden the hearts of men and they fail to repent of all of their evil in which they do, even in the midst of this horrible period of judgment. They continue their worship of Satan and the representations and the idols.
Next week we'll take the next three chapters. Two woes are past. The third woe is yet to happen, the seventh trumpet from which will come the seven vials, the last final plagues. But in the meantime we are going to have a little interesting digression. In chapter ten, we are going to have a little digression into the glorious return of Jesus Christ. In chapter eleven, we are going to be introduced to the two witnesses and to their ministries. In chapter twelve, we will be introduced to several different personages, the woman representing Israel, Satan the great dragon, and the war between the woman and Satan. So that is our menu for next Sunday night. May the Lord be with you and watch over and keep you in His love. May you experience the touch of God upon your life, His strength, His help, His guidance, His wisdom. Give the week over to Lord, acknowledge Him in all things that He might direct your path in His way of righteousness as you live a life that is pleasing and accepting unto Him.