The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Revelation 9

Rev 9:1

Rev 9:1-11: Fifth Trumpet: Siege of Jerusalem: "[Consider] the parallel between Jer 8 and the Trumpets. This is the chapter to which Jesus referred four times in foretelling the casting off of Israel: v 11 = Luke 19:42; v 12 = Luke 19:44; v 13 = Luke 20:10 and Mat 21:19. In Rev Jesus resumes his exposition of that prophecy:

  1. Jer 8:2: The idols 'which they have loved, served, walked after, sought, worshipped.' Rev 9:20: 'Idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and wood; which can neither see, nor hear, nor walk.'
  2. Jer 8:3: 'Death shall be chosen rather than life.' Rev 9:6: 'Men shall seek death and shall not find it.'
  3. Jer 8:5: 'Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? They hold fast deceit, they refuse to return.' Rev 9:20,21: 'Yet they repented not of the works of their hands neither repented they of their murders, etc.'
  4. Jer 8:7: The stork knoweth her appointed times... but my people doth not know... " Rev 9:15: 'Prepare (the attacking army) for the hour and day and month and year.'
  5. Jer 8:14: 'The Lord God hath given us water of gall (wormwood) to drink.' Rev 8:11: 'The star wormwood... and many men died, because the waters were made bitter.'
  6. Jer 8:16: 'The snorting of his horses was heard... the whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing of his strong ones.' Rev 9:9: 'The sound of many horses running to the battle.'
  7. Jer 8:17: 'I will send serpents, cockatrices among you... and they shall bite you.' Rev 9:5: 'Their torment was as the torment of a scorpion when he striketh a man.'
  8. Jer 8:20: 'The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.' Rev 9:5: The end of the five months (it came in August), and only hopelessness.
  9. Jer 8:22: 'Is there no balm in Gilead?' Rev 9:13: Saints in Pella (Gilead) pleading for Jerusalem, yet unable to save it?
  10. Jer 8:19. 'The cry of the daughter of my people from a land that is very far off.' Israel sold into captivity in far-off lands.
  11. Jer 8:19. 'Is not the Lord in Zion? Is not her King in her?' Jerusalem rejected as God's dwelling place. The Messiah no longer acknowledged there by any" (WRev).
Fifth Trumpet and Last Days: cp Joel's prophecy:

1. Locusts
Joel 1:4
Rev 9:3
2. Symbolic of a nation
Joel 1:6
Rev 9:4,7
3. Teeth like lions
Joel 1:6
Rev 9:8
4. Trees and pasture withered and burnt up
Joel 1:12,18-20
Rev 8:7
5. Destruction from the Almighty
Joel 1:15
Rev 9:11
6. Fire
Joel 1:19; 2:3,5
Rev 8:7; 9:17
7. Rivers of water dried up
Joel 1:20
Rev 8:10; 9:14
8. Blowing of trumpets
Joel 2:1,11,15
Rev 8:6
9. Darkness
Joel 2:2
Rev 9:2
10. Horses
Joel 2:4
Rev 9:7,9
11. Chariots
Joel 2:5
Rev 9:9
12. Torment
Joel 2:6
Rev 9:6
13. Earthquake
Joel 2:10
Rev 8:5
14. Sun, moon, and stars darkened
Joel 2:10,31; 3:15
Rev 8:12; 9:2
15. "Turn to me..."
Joel 2:12
Rev 9:20,21
16. The locust army goes back into the abyss
Joel 2:20
Rev 9:1
17. Deliverance for the faithful remnant
Joel 2:32
Rev 9:4

STAR... FALLEN FROM... SKY TO... EARTH: From Luk 10:18-20. Used of Capernaum, or first-century Galilean rebels against Christ. Cp Isa 14:12.

ABYSS: = Sea in Luk 8:31,33; Rom 10:7; etc. Cp Rev 13:1 with Rev 11:7. Roman army out of Mediterranean.

In Rev 17:15, water is said to represent people. The "pit of the abyss" may therefore represent the huge unnumbered multitude (or symbolic sea), of the Middle East. It is appropriate to this symbol, that Arabia, the region from whence Mohammed came, is noted for the remarkable depression in the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea –- the lowest of the earth's surface which is above water.

THE SHAFT OF THE ABYSS: The "pit of the abyss" is the immense depression in the earth: Arabia and Dead Sea (elevation 1,400 below sea level). The bowl-shape acts to reflect and hold sun's rays and maintain even a hotter and more tropical climate.

KEY TO THE SHAFT OF THE ABYSS: "The familiar suggestion that this abyss symbolizes 'Arabia physically and politically' comes in with great appropriateness here. Here is the final conflict between Jews and Arabs, with a catastrophic outcome for desperate Israel. Is this key, which opens up such an era of horror and torment, given to the angel or to the power represented by the star? Grammatically, it could be either. If the former, then here is emphasis of the fact of angelic control of inexorable political developments in the Last Day. If the latter, then this foreshadows that as on three occasions already Israel has been goaded into taking the initiative in violent action against Arab enemies, so also again by dint of cunning political maneuvering, Israel will be pushed into taking the first militant steps which will serve to label that little state the aggressor and will also cause sympathizers like America to hold back support until it is too late. In the last Days Israel will fight without a friend in the world, just as in AD 70" (WRev).

CH: Fifth Trumpet: Mohammed and the Saracens (632-932): "On the death of his protector (the Prince of Mecca), Mohammed was driven from thence to the City of Medina. This was in the year 622, and the Hegira (or flight) marks the beginning of the Mahommedan era. All Muslim calendars are dated from this time.

"In his search for power, Mahomet wrote the Koran, and laid the foundation for Mohammedism. He rapidly attracted numbers to his cause. Proclaiming his belief in one God, he declared open war upon the Trinitarianism of Roman Catholicism. When his ambassadors were contemptuously treated by the Eastern Roman Empire, he decided to invade it. In preparation thereof, he first conquered Arabia, and then made preparations for the bigger conquest. He died in 632 before he could accomplish this. He was succeeded by Abubeker, the first Caliph" (ApEp).

See Lesson, Papal and Muslim "legs".

Rev 9:2

SMOKE: Smoke and fire sym war (Deu 29:20; Psa 74:1; Isa 31:9). Cp also Eze 34:12; Isa 9:18,19; Gen 19:28 (cp Rev 11:8).

A GIGANTIC FURNACE: A furnace sym war and hardship: Deu 4:20; Isa 31:8,9.

Rev 9:3

SCORPIONS: The sting of the scorpion is sometimes fatal, and was actually used by Arab writers to describe their weapons. As the scorpion inhabits the east, it is the natural symbol for the Arabs as well as representing their weapons of war.

Rev 9:4

CH: "Abubeker (Mohammed's successor) gave this instruction to his troops, which well illustrates the significance of this verse. He told them: 'Remember you are always in the presence of God, on the verge of death, in the assurance of judgment and in the hope of Paradise. Avoid injustice and oppression. Let not your victory be stained with the blood of women and children. Destroy no palm trees nor burn any fields of corn. Cut down no fruit trees, nor do any mischief to cattle, only such as you need to eat. You will find another sort of people who belong to the synagogue of satan who have shaven crowns; be sure you cleave their skulls, and give them no quarter till they either convert or pay tribute.'

"Within 100 years all Palestine, Syria, Egypt, North Africa and Spain were under Muslim rule" (ApEp).

Rev 9:5

TORTURE... AGONY: the policy of Titus throughout the siege of Jerusalem was to exercise the utmost clemency possible. For months the attack on the city was not pressed with characteristic Roman vigour and efficiency, Titus apparently entertaining for a long time the hope that eventually the Jews would come to a more reasonable frame of mind and realize frankly the hopelessness of their situation.

Similar words used also by Josephus to describe the 'inward torment' of the suffering Jews (Wars 5.1.5).


Rev 9:6

"It was now a miserable case, and a sight that would justly bring tears to your eyes how men stood as to their food, while the more powerful had more than enough, and the weaker were lamenting for want of it, but the famine was too hard for all other passions, and it was destructive to nothing so much as it was to modesty; for what was worthy of reverence otherwise was in this case despised; insomuch that sons pulled the very morsels that their fathers were eating out of their mouths, and what was still more to be pitied, so did the mothers do to their infants, they were not ashamed to take from them the last drops that might preserve their lives; and while they ate after this manner, yet were they not concealed in so doing: but the seditious everywhere came upon them immediately, and snatched away from them what they had gotten from others; for when they saw any house shut up, this was to them a signal that the people within had gotten some food; whereupon they snatched what they were eating almost from their very throats, and this by force; the old men, who held their food fast, were beaten, and if the women hid what they had within their hands, their hair was torn for so doing; nor was there any commiseration shown to either the aged or to the infants, but they lifted up children from the ground as they hung upon the morsels they had gotten, and shook them down upon the floor" (Josephus BJ 5.10.3).

"No wonder Jesus was constrained to exclaim: 'Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened' (Mat 24:22). These words were no rhetorical flourish, but literal truth. The first great siege of Jerusalem, the graphic prototype of AD 70, by Nebuchadnezzar ended on precisely the same day of the year as did the siege of Titus, but it had lasted a whole year whereas this for the elect's sake (ie by reason of the prayers of the faithful who yet regarded with reverence and affection the city of the Great King) was concluded within the astonishingly short period of five months.

"The grim words of Rev are echoed almost verbatim by Josephus: 'So those that were thus distressed by the famine were very desirous to die, and those that were already dead were esteemed happy... Nay, the terror was so very great, that he who survived called them that were first dead happy, as being at rest already; as did those that were under torture in the prisons declare that those that lay unburied were the happiest.'

"Could correspondence between prophecy and Jewish history be more impressive than that which meets the student of Rev 9?

"There is evidence that even in the First Century this Scripture was understood in the manner briefly set out here. One of the 'visions' described in the (uninspired) 'Shepherd of Hermas' has these words: 'Behold I saw a great Beast like a whale (compare the beast of the sea; Rev 13) and out of its mouth fiery locusts went forth. This beast came out so fiercely as if it could demolish the city at a blow... This beast is the emblem of the wrath to come' " (WRev).

Rev 9:8

LIKE WOMEN'S HAIR: Sexual perversions? (Rom 1:24...).

Rev 9:10

FIVE MONTHS: Normal locust season in Palestine (May thru Sept). The actual siege of Jerusalem was from Apr 14 to Sept 8 -- 5 lunar (Jewish) months. 5 mos = time flood waters prevailed on earth (Gen 7:24; cp Luk 17:26).

CH: "Five months represent the normal activity of locusts. In accordance with the requirements of the symbol, two periods of five months are introduced into the prophecy (see v 5) instead of 10 months. This is a period of 300 prophetic days or years, making in all 10 months or 300 prophetic years. Hence the 'locusts' were to torment the men of the apostasy until 150 years were completed, and they were in injure 'the rest of men' not included in the eastern third for another 150 years (cp Eur 2:462).

"This dated from 632-633, when the power of the Arabs was first felt by the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire) until 932; when Arab power declined, and the secular authority was taken from the Caliph of Baghdad" (ApEp).

Rev 9:11

KING OVER THEM: Locusts normally have no king (Pro 30:27).

THE ANGEL OF THE ABYSS: "It must be a literal angel that is intended -- a destroying angel, an angel of death. There is nothing fanciful about taking these words of v 11 in the most literal sense possible. The angel who slew the firstborn in Egypt is called the Destroyer (Exo 12:23). The angel who punished Israel in the wilderness is called the Destroyer (1Co 10:10). The angel who afflicted Israel with pestilence in the time of David is spoken of as destroying (1Ch 21:12,15,16; cp what was suggested on Rev 8:13). And since these Roman armies were undoubtedly God's armies (see Mat 22:7) little difficulty should be found in the idea that the destroying legions were invisibly led by one of the Almighty's angels of evil (angels to whom God commits the dispensation of evil; not wicked angels: see Psa 78:49; RV; there are no wicked angels)" (WRev).

Rev 9:12

"These words have a certain resemblance to the LXX of Ezek 7:23-26 (v 26 in particular), which describes God's wrath against Israel on an earlier dreadful occasion. Other vv in the same ch continue the resemblance to Rev, especially vv 12 (= Rev 9:15),14,15,19,20 (= Rev 9:20,21). Thus the student is further encouraged to look for a primary fulfilment of the Trumpets in the AD 70 Fall of Jerusalem" (WRev).

Rev 9:13

Vv 13-21: Sixth Trumpet (LD): "Yet another Biblical association of this horde of invaders is with the destruction of Sodom: 'Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven... and lo, the smoke of a furnace' (Gen 19:24,28). So whilst the Fifth Trumpet reminds the reader of the Lord's warning: 'As it was in the days of Noah... ' this Sixth Trumpet continues with a further reminder: 'Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot...' (Luke 17:26,28). Thus, one after another, the signposts point the reader to the Last Days for the true and altogether terrifying fulfilment of this apocalypse of wrath. It is, in very truth, the hour, the day, the month, the year -- the moment of Destiny: 'the Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord whose throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men... Upon the wicked he will rain snares (NEB: red-hot coals), fire and brimstone (cp Sodom, and the Sixth Trumpet), and an horrible blast' (as in Isa 30:30,33). And it is at this time that 'his countenance doth behold the upright' (Psa 11:4,7). The Greek word translated ''brimstone'' in these passages has interesting associations with fumigation and cleansing -- how appropriate! -- but also it is so close to the word for 'divine' as almost to be mistaken for it (2Pe 1:3,4; Acts 17:29; Rom 1:20). The paradox is strange, yet accurate. Just as the armies in the parable of the Wedding Garment (Mat 22:7) represent the massing of the brute force of Rome against Jerusalem and at the same time the wrath of heaven against an impious nation, so also this mighty multitude represents not only a crescendo and concentration of malevolence against God's people such as the centuries have never known, but also the divinely contrived purging of those who still continue rebellious against Him right to the last" (WRev).

Vv 13-21: Sixth Trumpet (CH): "The period of the 6th Trumpet was one of recurring Turkish attacks against the Eastern Roman Empire. The Turks embraced the Moslem religion from the Saracens and became the scourge of Catholicism. The Seljukins, the first Turkish dynasty to assume power (cp v 14), ravaged the Roman power in the east, and menaced Constantinople by sea and land.

"The doctrine of the Trinity was particularly obnoxious to the Turks who fanatically believed in the unity of God.

"Their battles were 'holy wars', and they offered the Koran or the sword to the vanquished. Malek Shah, the first Turk to be called 'Commander of the Faithful,' extended his dominion from the Chinese frontier to the mountains of Georgia, where he set up his power.

"The Moguls and Tartars (the second angel) originated from Noth China, and advanced west into Asia. They overthrew the Seljuks and reigned in their stead. Octui, one of the sons of Zingis Khan, with 1,500,000 Moguls, extended his conquests into the very heart of Eastern Europe. He celebrated the battle of Lignitz, by filling nine sacks with the right ears of his enemies. He warned the Pope that he was invested with divine power to subdue and extirpate all nations.

"The third angel, particularly under Timour, continued the attacks of the former dynasties. He died in 1405 when advancing against China.

"The fourth angel, the Ottomans, brought about the political death of Eastern Rome in accordance with the prophecy. Constantinople was besieged by Mahomet on the 2nd April 1453. Special cannon of a size hitherto unknown were used in this siege, and it was chiefly through use of these that the city was taken on 29th May, 1453. Catholicism in the East suffered a terrible blow with the Ottoman success. The beautiful churches erected to the demons, or departed spirits of saints, were converted to mosques by the victorious Turks.

"The patriarch of the Greek Catholic Church, originally stationed in Constantinople, fled to Moscow, where he set up his power, and which became known as the Third Rome, the two previous ones being Rome itself, and Constantinople" (ApEp).

A VOICE COMING FROM THE HORNS OF THE GOLDEN ALTAR: "This links the events of this period with the prayers of the saints, which are offered upon the Christ-altar. The golden altar relates to the altar of incense in the Tabernacle, and incense sym prayer (Rev 5:8). All things are done on behalf of saints (Rom 8:28; Psa 116:15, 17:13-14)" (ApEp).

Rev 9:14

BOUND AT... EUPHRATES: Perhaps sig "bound at the border of Israel" (cp Gen 15:18). But when the Euphrates is dried up (Rev 16:12,14), they will no longer be restrained.

"The Biblical associations of the river Euphrates are with the great political Enemy of the people of Israel: 'In that day the Lord will shave with a razor that is hired, by them beyond the River (Euphrates), by the king of Assyria (Isa 7:20). 'Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the River, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks... he shall reach even to the neck... ' (Isa 8:7,8).

"The use of this figure fairly clearly requires reference of this Second Woe to a military power as great and dominant as Assyria was in its time. And all the details of this prophecy point to events as yet unmatched in human history. To interpret them of long-forgotten Turkish invasions of unimportant provinces is to be content with the shadow when a much more impressive fulness is within hand's reach.

"It seems reasonable to equate these four angels bound at Euphrates with the four (Rev 7:1,2) who restrain the four winds (the spirit of God, Zec 6:5) until the final sealing of the elect is completed. And in turn these are probably the four horsemen of the first four Seals, associated with the Cherubim of God's Glory when His authority is re-asserted in the earth in the Last Days" (WRev).

Rev 9:15

HOUR... DAY... MONTH... YEAR: Perhaps, simply a set time, fixed not just to the year and the month, but even to the exact day and hour!

HOUR... DAY... MONTH... YEAR: "391 days 1 hour. On the day for a year principle (cp Ezek 4:6), 391 years, 1 month. On 27th April 1062, the powerful Turkish leader Togrul Beg established himself in Moslem authority by marrying the Caliph's daughter. He waged war on the Eastern Roman Empire, initiating a series of determined assaults against Constantinople. At last on 28th May 1453, the city fell to Mohammet 2nd.

"The period of time was fulfilled, and the Eastern Roman Empire with its headquarters in Constantinople was at an end. Thus was slain the 'third part of men', for this time Rome was divided into three parts: the Western Empire (the Holy Roman Empire), the Eastern Empire (Byzantium), and the Papacy" (ApEp).

Rev 9:16

TWO HUNDRED MILLIONS: "The number of the army -- 200 millions -- can hardly be taken literally. At all ages in history this has been an impossible figure, until -- perhaps -- the present day. But more on this anon. For the moment the number must be read as indicating an exceptionally large army. By Roman numerical standards this was actually the case in AD 70. Four Roman legions -- out of 26 in the entire Empire -- were concentrated in this struggle for the suppression of Jewish opposition; and their fighting strength was approximately doubled by the contingents supplied, as acts of loyalty, by neighbouring eastern states. And all of these -- most of them cavalry, in accordance with the prophecy -- were concentrated in one of the smallest countries of the wide-spreading Roman Empire (Josephus BJ 3.4.2; 5.1.6).

"Like the hordes of locusts in the preceding vision, this army is described as being invisibly led and controlled by four angels, which are 'bound at the Euphrates'. These details find unexpected (?) elucidation in the narrative of Josephus, who tells that most of the army consisted of legions already stationed at the Euphrates in preparation for an eastern campaign, and of cavalry supplied by four kings of that region" (WRev).

MOUNTED TROOPS: The horse, sym war (Job 39:18-25; Zec 10:3).

Rev 9:17

FIERY RED, DARK BLUE, AND YELLOW AS SULFUR: KJV has "fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone". "This mighty punitive army is described in terms of puzzling symbolism. Certainly the words read most appropriately as a figurative description of modern mechanized warfare. The horsemen are accoutred in breastplates of 'fire, and jacinth, and brimstone.' The second of these is the word 'hyacinth,' which is used uniformly in the LXX for the blue materials used in the tabernacle. Thus the triple expression comes three times (twice in the more comprehensible form: 'fire, smoke, brimstone'), which, again three times over, is said to 'issue from their mouths'. These details occur again in the judgement of the Third Thunder (Rev 14:10,11), and also -- strange contrast! -- in the judgement meted out in connection with the Two Witnesses (Rev 11:5). The suggestion made in that context -- that 'the fire proceeding out of their mouth' symbolizes the divine vengeance that comes because of and not through the Witnesses -- has some relevance here. In this case, it is because of the voice from the golden altar of incense (Rev 9:13). The saints in Christ, and their eager importunity for the coming of God's Kingdom are the moving power behind the titanic events foreshadowed here" (WRev).

FIERY... SMOKE... SULFUR: Reminiscent of the divine judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:24,28,29).

Rev 9:18

The "plagues" of AD 70: "Hereupon, some of the deserters, having no other way, leaped down from the wall immediately, while others of them went out of the city with stones, as if they would fight them; but thereupon they fled away to the Rom, but here a worse fate accompanied these than what they had found within the city; and they met with a quicker despatch from the greater abundance among the Rom, than they could have in the famine among the Jews; for when they came first to the Romans, they were puffed up by the famine, and swelled like men in a dropsy; after which they all on a sudden over-filled these bodies which were before empty, and so burst asunder, excepting such only as were skilful enough to restrain their appetites and by degrees took in their food into bodies unaccustomed hereto. Yet did another plague seize upon them that were thus preserved, for there was found among the Syrian deserters a certain person who was caught gathering pieces of gold out of the excrements of the Jews' bellies, for the deserters used to swallow such pieces of gold, as we told you before, when they came out, and for these did the seditious search them all, for there was a great quantity of gold in the city; insomuch that as much was now sold in the Roman camp for twelve Attic drams, as was sold before for twenty-five. But then this contrivance was discovered in one instance, the fame of it filled their several camps that the deserters came to them full of gold. So the multitude of them (Arabians and Syrians) cut up those that came as supplicants, and searched their bellies. Nor does it seem to me, that any misery befell the Jews that was more terrible than this, since in one night's time about 2,000 of these deserters were thus dissected" (Josephus BJ 5.13.4).

Cp days of Sodom (Gen 19:24,25; Luk 17:26,28).

Rev 9:19

POWER... IN... MOUTHS: Perhaps propaganda?

POWER... IN... MOUTHS... AND... TAILS: "The cannon were drawn into battle at the tail of horses. To fire, these were swung around to the fore. Thus it appeared to John in the vision as though the power was in the mouth and the tail, for the gun at the tail became the mouth when the horse swung around" (ApEp).

Rev 9:20

Vv 20,21: Fulfilled 70 AD: "The worship of 'demons (ie gods) of gold, silver, brass and stone, the works of their own hands' is more than adequately explained by the fanatical reverence which the Jews accorded to the endless sequence of false prophets who rose up among them, and to their Temple -- 'the works of their own hands', even the disciples of Jesus were not immune: 'Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here' (Mark 13:1). Even in the very last stages of the conflict, thousands of people perished through foolishly following the exhortation of a false prophet to muster in a certain part of the Temple that their Messiah might appear unto them. As to the rest... 'Now this Simon, who was without the wall was a greater terror to the people than the Romans themselves, as were the Zealots who were within it themselves more heavy than both the others; and during this time did the mischievous contrivances and courage of John corrupt the body of the Galileans; for these Galileans had advanced this John, and made him very potent, who made them very suitable requital from the authority he had obtained by their means, for he (John of Gischala) permitted them to do all things that any of them desired to do, while their inclination to plunder was insatiable; as was their zeal in searching the houses of the rich; and for the murdering of men, and abusing of the women, it was sport to them. They also devoured what spoils they had taken, together with their blood, and indulged themselves in wantonness, without any disturbance, till they were satiated therewith: while they decked their hair and put on woman's garments, and were besmeared over with ointments; and that they might appear very comely they had paints under their eyes, and imitated, not only the ornaments, but also the lusts of women, and were guilty of such intolerable uncleanness that they invented unlawful pleasure of that sort; and thus did they roll themselves up and down the city, as in a brothel house, and defiled it entirely with their impure actions; nay, while their faces looked like the faces of women, they killed with their right hands; and while their gait was effeminate, they presently attacked men and became warriors, and drew their swords from under their finely dyed cloaks, and ran everybody through who they came upon. However, Simon waited for such as ran away from John, and was the more bloody of the two; and he that escaped the tyrant within the wall, was destroyed by the other that lay before the gates, so that all attempts of flying and deserting to the Romans were cut off, if any had the mind so to do' (BJ 4.9.10). Murders, sorceries, fornication, thefts!

"Yet in spite of all these extremes of suffering the Jews were utterly unrepentant. On the contrary, they merely became more and more fanatical and unreasoning in their opposition to the Romans and in their stubborn refusal to turn to the God of their fathers who was chastening them thus" (WRev).

Vv 20,21: LD: "Yet the language about the worship of 'idols of gold, and of silver, and of brass, and of stone, and of wood, which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk' reads strangely with reference to Israel -- until it is realized that this is an accurate description of all [modern] civilization. It is a completely materialistic society, which leaves God out of account, and worships things, things, things, 'the works of their own hands.' In this respect the Jews stand in the first rank of all, so that today more than ever, and especially in the state of Israel, 'ye serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell' (Deu 4:28). Isa 2, which is applied by Paul to the coming of the Lord (2Th 1:9), has the same caustic denunciation of a people given over to the worship of things: 'Their land also is full of silver and gold... their land is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made: and the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself (before these gods): therefore -- it is Isaiah's personal prayer -- forgive them not" (Isa 2:7-9). The entire passage should be studied as a vivid ultimate judgement on this obsessive materialism when God 'ariseth to shake terribly the earth'.

"There are many Scriptures, which foretell a repentance of Israel just before the Lord's coming, but this will not be nation-wide. The response to the tribulations of the Sixth Trumpet indicates that the majority of Israel -- 'two parts' (Zec 13:8,9) -- will find no place for repentance: 'yet they repented not of the works of their own hands ... neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their thefts.' This description, much of which had a very literal basis in its reference to the Jerusalem of AD 70, has to be 'modernized' in its application to the Last Days, like so much of the language of the Apocalypse elsewhere (eg Rev 19:14,15; 17:12; 16:21).

"This war of God against the widespread evils of idolatry among His people has an impressive parallel in one of Micah's prophecies of the Last Days: 'And I will cut off thy standing images (symbols of sex worship) out of the midst of thee; and thou shalt no more worship the work of thine hands' (Mic 5:12,13). And yet that prophecy concludes with this: 'And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the nations, which hearkened not' (Rev 5:15).

"This overall picture of the Sixth Trumpet is of the Land being overrun in the time of the End by an irresistible army of multitudinous enemies. It is a time of utter helplessness for Israel, yet the mass of the nation fails to learn its lesson. Hearts are as hardened as Pharaoh's, and judgement is as certain. Nevertheless this is not God's last word. 'The seven last plagues, in which is finished the wrath of God' are yet [to come]" (WRev).

THE WORK OF THEIR HANDS: For Jews, the Temple itself -- slavishly worshipped!

DEMONS: (esp CH) According to Plato: "All demons are an intermediate order between God and mortals." The deification of emperors and heroes by polytheistic Greeks and Romans was carried over completely by Catholics into the deification of "saints". These "saints" -- as the "gods" and "goddesses" -- are supposed to be benefactors and mediators for their special constituents.

GOLD... SILVER... : Materialism, the modern "idolatry": cp Deu 4:28; Isa 2:7-9; Mic 5:12,13.
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