Week 6, Tuesday: A spiritual plague and war
With the sounding of the fifth trumpet a host of beings from “the bottomless pit” is unleashed upon the earth. The creation has been polluted by sin and is groaning and travailing under the burden of it. Now terrible powers – undoubtedly spiritual in nature, given the unnatural images in which they are presented – are turned loose against those who “do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.” These will bring such terrible injury to humankind that people will long for death, but not be able to achieve it.
Read Revelation 9
Meditate on Revelation 9.1-12
1. The earth and cosmos are infected with sin (chapter 8) and are, therefore, naturally under the judgment of God. The coals that purified Isaiah will ultimately purify the whole creation, but not just yet. Now terrible powers are released on the earth from “the bottomless pit.” What is your initial impression of these powers? These beings are like a plague (“locusts”) on the earth, but not such that the earth is always plagued by them, or people are at all times utterly miserable. How can you see that (cf. vv. 4-6)?
2. Who are particularly vulnerable to this “plague of locusts” (v. 4)? How do these oppressive creatures affect them? What must that be like? Do you ever recall feeling this way? How should this move our hearts for these people?
3. These spiritual powers are described in military terms (vv. 7-9). Does this suggest that they might easily find a home and willing cobelligerents among those who are associated with the red horse and its rider (Rev. 6.3, 4)? Does this suggest anything about war as a matter of policy?
4. These terrifying, harmful beings are ruled by a “king.” From Matthew 4.1-11, what do we know about this king and his ultimate objective? He is called Abaddon (Hebrew) and Apollyon (Greek). See what you can find out about the meaning of these names (use your Internet search box). What do they suggest about what it must be like to live under this king’s power?
5. Notice the “three woes” mentioned in verse 12. The first is now “over” or “past.” Perhaps a better translation of that Greek verb might be “spread”, as in Matthew 4.24. Given what we saw in question 3, what might we expect from the remaining two woes?
People are subject to powerful forces of sin and spiritual evil that want to discourage, defeat, and destroy them – and they aren’t even aware that these powers exist. No wonder they’re incapable of knowing peace or hope apart from the Lord (Eph. 2.12). How should this guide you in praying for the people in your Personal Mission Field?
The Glory of God
Again, all the activity of this fourth facet is coming to pass according to the words written on the scroll which the Lamb is opening. What can we conclude about God’s power and sovereignty in the face of such a terrible and chaotic situation as is described in chapters 8 and 9? What might we expect in the world if God were not ruling over this situation?
Glory to Glory
Suggest some ways you might begin to be more sensitive to and aware of the effects of sin on people and the world. How should this guide your prayers? Your daily conversations?
Let’s look more closely at our memory verses, Revelation 10.10, 11. Recite your memory verses aloud. How should these verses shape your expectations of your reading and study of God’s Word?
Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse me from secret faults.
Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
And I shall be innocent of great transgression.
Psalm 19.12, 13
T. M. Moore
The book of Revelation is the culminating episode in the story of God’s covenant. To learn more about that covenant, and to discover the way it integrates all of Scripture into the Gospel of Jesus Christ, order a copy of T. M.’s book, I Will Be Your God, by clicking here.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.