Revelation Episode 9

Beth's Notes

1 The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. 2 When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. 3 And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. 4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes a man. 6 During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them. 7 The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. 8 Their hair was like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. 9 They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. 10 They had tails and stings like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. 11 They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon.  12 The first woe is past; two other woes are yet to come. 13 The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the horns of the golden altar that is before God. 14 It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” 15 And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. 16 The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. I heard their number. 17 The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur. 18 A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths. 19 The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.  20 The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood-- idols that cannot see or hear or walk. 21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts. Revelation 9:1-21 (NIV)
A great crescendo continues to rise with the judgments upon the earth at the sound of the fifth trumpet – the first “Woe”. This is a very dramatic and excruciating scene John describes, taking up the first twelve verses in the chapter. These events are given considerable explanation implying that this is a most important step in God’s progressive and increasing judgments upon the earth. It is not going to get any better.  Remember, we are not static – we are either going forward or backwards – and the earth and its inhabitants that don’t have God’s seal are on a spiral down.
As the fifth trumpet sounds, John sees a star that had fallen from the sky that had been given a key to the shaft of the Abyss – the bottomless pit.  Verse one does not record the fall itself, rather the star is seen as already fallen. The star mentioned here seems to refer to a person rather than a literal star or meteor. The word fallen is in the perfect tense signifying a completed action. His fallenness is our key to his identity. Revelation 12:9 tells us:
 9 The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.  He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
In Luke 10:18 Jesus states:
18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”
Here Jesus speaks of Satan’s power having been broken and that Satan is subject to Jesus’ authority within us on earth through the indwelling Holy Spirit’s power. Believers can stand firm and fully assured in Christ’s power. 

While the concept of Satan in heaven can be difficult for us to comprehend, it is clear that he is now the accuser of saints.  We see in Job 1:6:
6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”
 Peter also warns us in 1 Peter 5:8:
8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Presently, the earth is Satan’s domain and he will continue to accuse the believers before the Throne of God as we saw in Job - but this will not always be true. Satan’s doom is secure. Hallelujah! While His fall from heaven and demise is often presented as a single act, it actually occurs in stages. The Bible Knowledge Commentary states it like this:
“Satan’s initial judgment was his expulsion from the position of God’s anointed cherub before His throne. God expelled him from the mount of God. Satan was cast from God’s government in heaven but was still allowed access to God. In the Tribulation Satan will be cast totally from heaven and be restricted to the earth; in the Millennium he will be in the bottomless pit; and after his brief release at the end of the Millennium he will be cast into the lake of fire forever.” 
God had anointed Satan as a guardian cherub. The cherubim were the “inner circle” of angels who had the closest access to God and guarded His holiness. Satan also had free access to God’s Holy Mount.
As originally created by God, Satan was blameless... until wickedness was found in him and he sinned. The sin that corrupted Satan was self-generated. Created blameless, his sin was pride because of His great beauty. Paul tells us 1 Timothy 3:6 regarding overseers and deacons:
6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.
Remember ladies, pride is an insidious monster – we are to deal with it.  Haughty eyes are detestable in God’s sight.
Satan spoiled his wisdom because of his splendor and his great pride led to his downfall and ultimate judgment and destruction. We must be very careful how we live in plenty – where we believe we have no need. It is uber easy to rest in our laurels and luxuries. And we must also realize we easily fall into sin but holiness must be a lifelong pursuit – one never gets there until they are home with the Lord.   
In the Tribulation Satan will be cast from heaven and restricted to the earth; in the Millennium he will be in the bottomless pit; and after his brief release at the end of the Millennium, he will be cast into the lake of fire forever. Hallelujah!
Regarding Satan, Ezekiel 28:12-19 tells us:
“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. 14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. 16 Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. 17 Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.  So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.
18 By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. 19 All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.’”
Revelation 12:7-10 tells us:
7 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.  He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.  10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ.For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”
Though Satan was defeated at the first coming of Christ, his execution was delayed and is also in stages. He will be cast out of heaven in the Tribulation. Later he will be bound for the duration of the millennial kingdom. The devil will eventually be thrown into the lake of burning sulfur where the world ruler – the Antichrist and the false prophet will have been cast a thousand years earlier.
Back to our passage…Because of the “he” in verse two and “king” in verse eleven, the star that fell to the earth was a person rather than a fragment of a star.  he Prophet Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 14:12-17:
12 How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn!  You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! 13 You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”  15 But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.  16 Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate: “Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble, 17 the man who made the world a desert, who overthrew its cities and would not let his captives go home?”
Even in modern terminology it is customary to speak of an unusual athlete or performer as a star. This star, as stated, probably representing Satan was cast out of heaven in the Great Tribulation, and was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss - which is the “bottomless pit”. The “Abyss” which is better translated the abode of demons is a watery grave. Satan will be confined for a thousand years in this Abyss during the reign of Christ on earth, the Millennial Kingdom.
Next we see Satan given the key and the power to release those confined in this bottomless pit and to allow the demons in the Abyss to come out and afflict the earth. Remember, Satan has no power unless God allows it. As the pit is opened, this event was visually represented to John as great smoke, darkening the sky and the sun and the air. This smoke seems to foreshadow the spiritual corruption that will be caused by these demons when released from their confinement. It also identifies the judgment of the fifth trumpet as that of demonic and satanic oppression.
The vision of this judgment gets horrific as John describes locusts coming out of the smoke that are likened to scorpions. These are not normal locusts as we will discover, rather hordes of demons loosened upon the earth. The command was given to them not to harm the earth’s vegetation, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on them. Do not be mistaken, God is always in control of all things – no plan of His can be thwarted.
The description of these demons as having the destructive power of locusts as well as the painful sting of scorpions is appropriate. In the Old Testament locusts were a formidable foe, stripping the country of every green leaf and sprout, leaving both animals and men to die of starvation.  In Scripture, locusts were frequently used to bring divine judgment upon the wicked. Indeed, in the contest between Pharoah and Moses in Egypt, the plague of locusts quickly caused Pharoah to be humbled in Exodus 10:12-17:
12 And the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over Egypt so that locusts will swarm over the land and devour everything growing in the fields, everything left by the hail.” 13 So Moses stretched out his staff over Egypt, and the LORD made an east wind blow across the land all that day and all that night. By morning the wind had brought the locusts; 14 they invaded all Egypt and settled down in every area of the country in great numbers. Never before had there been such a plague of locusts, nor will there ever be again. 15 They covered all the ground until it was black. They devoured all that was left after the hail--everything growing in the fields and the fruit on the trees. Nothing green remained on tree or plant in all the land of Egypt. 16 Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the LORD your God and against you. 17 Now forgive my sin once more and pray to the LORD your God to take this deadly plague away from me.”
The locusts in Revelation Chapter Nine have the very specific purpose of executing divine judgment in a way that goes against their normal instincts.  They were not to eat the vegetation as ordinary locust would do. And their stinging capability was not characteristic of real locusts either. They were given the ability to torment people – apparently the entire unbelieving human race. Those sealed by God will escape this horrific divine judgment as they will be protected from it. They are those that have come to Christ during the great Tribulation period. This also includes the 144,000 of Revelation Chapter Seven. The torment is a judgment upon those who have rejected Jesus – often over and over again. Remember, there comes a time when God says, “Enough!”
The pain caused by these demons was compared to the bite of a scorpion. Scorpions in all climates are fearful and harmful creatures.  In warmer climates, they grow to such a size as to make their sting not only painful but also dangerous. Small children sometimes die from their stings in tropical countries. Though the affliction described here is not actually a sting of a scorpion, it is compared to the pain and suffering caused by such a sting. Also, the torment was to last a period five months which is the normal life span of locusts. Although the time of the suffering is limited, the pain is so severe and intense that people long to die yet death eludes them.
This graphic picture painted by John serves as a great warning to all unbelievers. It is a horrible picture of domination by demons to such an extent that people lose their ability of free choice and are in great agony of body and soul. As is common in demonic affliction as recorded in the Gospels, those in the grip of demons are not free to exercise their own will and therefore are not free to take their own lives. Even the hope of death to deliver them out of this dark hour is taken from them. The time period of five months was included to show that the torment is not a passing experience of a few days rather an extended plague over a considerable period of time. This makes the affliction a fearful experience to contemplate.
In verses seven through eleven of Chapter Nine the locusts are described by John. The description of the locusts compared to horses prepared for battle is awesome: human faces... crowns of gold... women’s hair... lions’ teeth, ironlike breastplates, and wings that sounded like horse-drawn chariots rushing into battle.
Obviously John was describing what he saw but did not interpret each characteristic. The picture is one of Satan’s awesome supernatural power in the demon world especially in relation to unbelievers.  Since demons do not have physical shape, what John is describing must symbolize demonic possession. The  demon’s awesome combination of human and animal qualities depicts the fearful character of these instruments of divine judgment. This is all in keeping with the general character of the book of Revelation. It is an unmasking of the true and malevolent nature of Satan and evil. He is not our friend – to say the least!  Make no mistake about it, He is filled with fury and hate and desires our demise.
These demonic creatures are said to have breastplates of iron implying they are immune to destruction. They are equipped with wings that sound like many chariots going into battle which imply speed and the impossibility of evading their attacks. The fact that they have the power to hurt people for five months is repeated in verse ten, as if to call special attention to the length of their torment. Remember, when anything is repeated in Scripture it is a red flag for us to pay attention.
Verse 11 adds a new detail that the locusts have a king who is the angel of the pit of the abyss. The Hebrew name is “Abaddon” and the Greek name is “Apollyon” and both mean destroyer. Though Satan is sometimes portrayed as an angel of light as we see in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15:
13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
Here, Satan and his demons are seen for what they really are, destroyers of people. Truly, the Great Tribulation, as Christ described it, will be a time of “great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again” as Matthew 24:21 records Christ’s Word.
Such is the awful character of Satan and his devilish minions. And he remains the same – his colors never change. Though in our modern world Satan often disguises himself as an angel of light in the role of that which is good and religious, here the mask has been stripped away and evil is seen in its true character – ugly and gruesome. Make no mistake about it, Satan and his demonic forces are destroyers of human souls and only bring about suffering, affliction, pain and heartache. When divine restraint is released as in this instance, the true character of this evil one is shown for what he is – hateful and despicable. Again, he is not our friend.
The foreboding words of “The first ‘Woe’ is past; two other ‘Woe’s’ are yet to come” stated in Revelation 9:12 send shivers up the spine. The word “Woe” in Scripture refers to some great calamity – usually a severe judgment from God. This word expresses the desperate situation of those who do not know Christ in these tragic hours preceding His return to judge the world. Yet in His mercy, He continues to give them time before it is too late - they can still turn now – it is not too late.  Our Lord used the word “Woe” when He pronounced judgment upon Korazin and Bethsaida in Matthew 11:21-22:   
21 “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.”
The tribulation period also unmasks human evil as well as the true character of the adversary. In our modern day while the evil one is still restricted it is very easy to forget the great conflict that is raging between the forces of God and the forces of Satan. Paul refers to this in Ephesians 6:11-12:
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore, we are to put on the full armor of God so that we can take our stand against the evil one. In the great tribulation and especially with the release of the confined demons, Satan will be exposed for who and what he is. For the first time in history, all who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord will come under some sort of demonic possession and affliction. This is somewhat true today to some degree for the only true deliverance from the power of Satan and his evil afflictions is found in salvation in Christ Jesus and the power of God through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Next we discover in verses 13-14 the sixth angel who sounded the trumpet and John heard a  voice coming from the horns of the golden altar that is before God. It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels that are bound at the great river Euphrates.”  And the angels who had been kept ready for this very hour, day, month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. What a somber moment indeed. 
The golden altar is the place where incense is offered consisting of the prayers of the saints. This is the final mention of the altar in Revelation and it is related to God’s judgment upon the earth. The inference is that this judgment, like those preceding it, is partially an answer to the prayers of the persecuted saints on earth and a token of divine response and preparation for their deliverance.
The voice instructed the sixth angel to loose the four angels who were once bound and continue to be bound (the Greek tense is perfect) at the great river Euphrates. Two questions need to be addressed here to understand this unusual event. The four angels mentioned in Revelation 7:1, who are in authority over the winds of the earth, are holy angels as they are instructed not to inflict their punishment until the 144,000 of Israel who are sealed and protected by God. They appear to be instruments of God’s divine wrath upon the world. The four angels in Chapter Nine, however, are obviously of different character. There is no instance in Scripture where holy angels are ever bound.  Some of the evil angels, however, are bound according to Jude 5 and 6:
5 Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home--these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.
Likewise, Satan is later bound for 1,000 years during the Millennium reign as we discover in Revelation 20:1-3:
1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
From these parallels we may conclude that the four angels bound in the Euphrates are evil angels or demons who are released in order to execute this judgment that will take the lives of multiplied millions of people.  Notice that they are prepared for that very hour, day, month and year – just as God had planned. Much like the great fish that swallowed Jonah effecting divine discipline upon the prophet.  We can see the all-powerful hand of God in both of these instances. Jonah 1:17 states God “appointed” or “provided” the great fish and at just the right time to swallow His prophet and here in Revelation 9 the evil angels of the sixth trumpet are not released until the moment chosen by God. Ryrie states:  “These demons who had been kept for this hour could not have released themselves or been freed by Satan until God gave the command.” God states in Isaiah 46:8-11:
8 “Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. 9 Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. 10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. 11 From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.
The fourth seal resulted in a fourth of the earth’s population being killed in Revelation 6:7-8 which tells us:
7 When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 I looked, and there before me was a pale horse!  Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.”
Here a third of the remainder were put to death. These two judgments alone, disregarding all intervening judgments, would account for the death of half the earth’s population. This fact is to be taken literally as it confirms the statement by Daniel 12:1-3:
1 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.  But at that time your people--everyone whose name is found written in the book--will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.”
And in the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 24:21-22: 
21 “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equaled again. 22 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.”

The Great Tribulation will be without precedent and would end in the death of all mankind if it were not stopped by our Lord’s second coming.
That these four angels were bound at the great river Euphrates seems to be that the vision concerns an invasion from the east. As we have discussed, this judgment comes by God’s precise appointment. Though God often uses created beings to accomplish His purpose, the time schedule is determined by Him alone and no one else.  Even angels execute God’s will in God’s time. The judgment depicted here – the killing of one-third of the earth’s people, is one of the most devastating mentioned anywhere in Revelation prior to the second coming. Never since Noah has such a substantial proportion of the earth’s population come under God’s righteous judgment.
Having declared the purpose of the army, John now gives details. The loosing of the four angels resulted in releasing an army of two hundred million mounted troops. The most staggering statistic is the fact that the number of the army is declared to be two hundred million.  Some interpreters do not take this number literally, though there is good evidence that all other numbers in Revelation are literal. Yet, John seems to emphasize the accuracy of the number, for he says he heard it, demonstrating this incredible number was a part of his vision not simply something he invented.
With the advent of the twenty-first century, an army of two hundred million from the East is increasingly possible. If such an army is to be raised up, it would be natural to conclude that it would come from China and/or possibly India – the great population centers of the world – accounting for over two billion of the earth’s six billion people.  It is fascinating that China alone has reported to have over 314,000,000 men ages 16 to 49 who are “fit for military service,” along with over 298,000,000 women in this same category!
These staggering numbers make it very feasible that the numbers revealed in verse sixteen should be taken literally. If so, this is an imposing statistic of the power and influence of the armies opposing God in the final world war. The deadly character of the army is revealed in their slaughter of one-third of the world’s population, a figure mentioned in Revelation 9:15:
15 And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind.
And again in Revelation 9:18:
18 A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths.
Even if taken symbolically, this figure clearly represents an overwhelming military force.  The fact that John heard the number, as obviously he could not visually count 200 million men, seems to lend credence to the concept that this is literal and predicts that an army will come from the East crossing the dried-up Euphrates River.  Revelation 16:12 tells us:
 12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East.
Great dams have already been placed across the Euphrates River to divert water for irrigation so that at times the riverbed is dry or partially so. A large invasion from the East and North in the end times is predicted in Daniel 11:44-45:
44 But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many. 45 He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.

Whatever the size of the army, it is clearly a massive force of tremendous military power as evidenced in its capacity to kill one-third of the human race.  It may be that the army continues to fight until the second coming of Christ, and the number slain is the total number involved in the conflict. John gives us a graphic description of the horses and their riders. They had breastplates of red, dark blue, and yellow. The lionlike heads of the horses imply something other than natural horses. Furthermore, John declared, that out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and sulfur. Some have taken this as a picture of modern warfare including the use of armed vehicles such as tanks. Whether symbolic or literal, the passage certainly implies terrible destruction and an awesome invading force. The terms “horses”, “lions”, and “serpents”, all speak of deadly warfare. As the king of beasts, the lion speaks of victorious conquest. The results are twice stated and include the death of a third of mankind.  The world that longs for peace and seeks to attain it by the worship of the beast will learn the sad lesson that there can be no peace until the prince of Peace reigns. The Prophet Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 48:22 tells us:
22 “There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.”
And God, our great Creator, Redeemer and Friend continually calls us back to repentance – wooing us with His undying love for us. Earlier in Isaiah 48:17-19 God describes His heart to us when He states: 
17 This is what the LORD says--your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. 18 If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea. 19 Your descendants would have been like the sand, your children like its numberless grains; their name would never be cut off nor destroyed from before me.”
Lastly, we see in Revelation the hardness of man’s heart. These verses present a striking portrait of mankind’s total depravity. Apart from Christ, we are not “good”. Horrific as all these judgment are, mankind still does not repent of the works of their hands – including their murders, sorceries, sexual immorality and thefts. They choose to worship idols of gold, silver, costly stones, and wood. Idols that cannot see or hear or walk. When people have been privy to ample evidence of God’s activity over and over again but fail to honor Him or give thanks to Him, He gives them over to what their wills desire and the just consequences of their actions which will most assuredly follow. We get to choose but God chooses the consequences. He never forces us to believe. These verses are so reminiscent of Jeremiah 7:3-11:
3 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. 4 Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!” 5 If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, 6 if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, 7 then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever. 8 But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. 9 Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”--safe to do all these detestable things? 11 Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the LORD.
And Isaiah 44:9-20 adds:
9 All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame. 10 Who shapes a god and casts an idol, which can profit him nothing? 11 He and his kind will be put to shame; craftsmen are nothing but men. Let them all come together and take their stand; they will be brought down to terror and infamy. 12 The blacksmith takes a tool and works with it in the coals; he shapes an idol with hammers, he forges it with the might of his arm. He gets hungry and loses his strength; he drinks no water and grows faint. 13 The carpenter measures with a line and makes an outline with a marker; he roughs it out with chisels and marks it with compasses. He shapes it in the form of man, of man in all his glory, that it may dwell in a shrine. 14 He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak. He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow. 15 It is man’s fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it. 16 Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.” 17 From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, “Save me; you are my god.” 18 They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand. 19 No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, “Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left?  Shall I bow down to a block of wood?”  20 He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”

Lest we sit here and smugly say we don’t bow down to wood or objects of our own making – we would do well to remember that we all battle with idol worship in some form. The flesh sets up its altars wherever it can find space for them. We can even make idols out of our own children. It happens subtly when our priorities get askew. Our deluded hearts often mislead us as well. God is always reigning His children in regarding idols.  Who (or maybe I should say what) is first in our lives? Who or what is on the throne?  If it is not God we will be found wanting. God will never share His rightful throne of our lives with anyone or anything. Look at your schedules and look at how you spend your money – that will often give you a clue of your priorities. Believe me, idol worship did not stop in Biblical times!  We often know when we get out of line with something or someone. God gives us the gift of family and friends; food and fellowship; work and play; houses and trappings and everything else BUT when these things become a greater priority than God Himself and His will for our lives, we are out of balance. We need to reign ourselves back in through the Holy Spirit’s power. He will help us keep ourselves in check. We are to be as King David when he prayed in Psalms 139:23-24:
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
David asked God to test him as a refiner tests metal. Since God knows everything He would know David’s anxious thoughts (also rendered “anxiety”). God would also know if he had any offensive way in him (literally means “way of pain,” or pain caused by being afflicted for wrongdoing). We are all in process. None of us -  even King David – will be perfect on this side of Heaven. It is a graciousness of God to show us our weaknesses and He lovingly will do it one at a time!
Spurgeon writes: “We pity the poor heathen who adore a god of stone, and yet worship a god of gold. Where is the vast superiority between a god of metal and one of wood? The principle, the sin, the folly is the same in either case, only that in ours the crime is more aggravated because we have more light, and sin in the face of it. The heathen bows to a false deity, but the true God he has never known; we commit two evils, inasmuch as we forsake the living God and turn to idols. May the Lord purge us all from this grievous iniquity! The dearest idol I have known, whatever that idol be; help me to tear it from the throne and worship only thee.”
Stand amazed at God’s amazing grace…tear down every idol Lord until we look like Jesus….surrender everything…His goodness is running after, is running after us….Let Him capture our hearts deepest longings…He is faithful and able...He will do it. He will do it.
These are Beth’s personal notes, due to this fact sources are not often stated.

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