From the Bottomless Pit
In the movie National Treasure, Benjamin Gates uses a set of glasses with specially colored lenses to decipher a message written invisibly on the back of the Declaration of Independence. Using this ‘ocular device’, Gates’ eyes widen with amazement at the images that he can now see as each lens is used. Comparing the entire book of Revelation to these multi-lensed glasses, Richard Phillips writes:
‘The visions of Revelation enable us to look on history from the perspective of God’s throne in heaven. We lower the lens of the seven seals and see God guarding his servants to pass through the great tribulation of earth to arrive safely into heaven. We then lower the lens of the seven trumpets and see God’s judgments that declare the inevitable victory of Christ and call idolatrous mankind to repent of sin. When we get to the seven bowls, that lens will reveal the judging punishments from God that destroy the fortresses and pleasure palaces of this age.’
As we turn to Revelation 9, the fifth and sixth trumpets reveal horrors that fill readers with dismay. The fifth trumpet summons an army of demonic locusts that could inhabit a science fiction movie about space aliens. The sixth trumpet releases fire-breathing horses with stinging serpents for tails. Phillips notes: ‘These are the bizarre images that cause some Christians to avoid the book of Revelation as too disturbing and difficult. Yet the reality behind these visions is too real for us to dismiss.’
Douglas Kelly, in his commentary on Revelation, writes of these contemporary realities:
‘When we see large-scale immoralities sweeping through the cultures of America and Western Europe, it tells us something. God has allowed Satan to lift the lid off the pit and to turn demons loose on those who have rejected the Word of God for several generations. One particular question faces us: why are certain types of perversions increasing in America and Europe, apparently reaching into high levels of government, universities, and the media? Why is there so much of it now that we did not see several years ago?
‘Revelation 9 provides the answer: God has let the fallen angels open the pit for a time as a judgment on the unbelief of our materialistic society. They have loosed demons into people’s minds and bodies, causing them to do unspeakable and perverse things… The issue is not whether we may experience the judgments of God for our sinful materialism at some future time – these judgments are already upon us. The fact that such things can happen legislatively is a sign that we are already under serious judgment. The demons have been let loose for several years already.’
The lens of these visions enables us to see the spiritual dimension of our present world as it truly is and the evil powers that afflict the lives of people with misery and dread. These horrible visions are given to us because we have a great need to see evil for what it is. The sins that tempt us are not pleasant things that we could enjoy if it weren’t for those pesky, unnecessary, burdensome commands that God has given to us. The sins that tempt us are traps set by the evil one far more frightful than we can imagine. Thus, we need to feel the evil of sin, so that we will be convinced that God’s commands are good. God’s commands keep us from the traps and snares of the ancient dragon. We need to feel this, and we also need to be convinced that God will indeed judge sin. We need to be convinced that God alone can save. And we need to be convinced that idolatry and sin will not profit us. God gives us chapter 9 to meet these needs.
I urge you to be with us, if at all possible, this Lord’s Day. We peer into a chapter laden with God’s judgment against the idolatry of humanity. While solemn in tone, we will discover that Revelation 9 offers the hope of grace, for repentant persons. Will you pray, with all your power, for the Spirit of the Lord to come down? It is with eager expectation that I look forward to joining you in worshiping the living God this Sunday. Would you bring someone with you?
Grace upon Grace,
On Sunday August 19, our worship service will be at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church beginning at 6:00 pm. A nursery will be provided. As you may be aware, each Aug the Civic Center rents out our whole wing for the weekend (including Sunday); thus, we are required to secure a place of worship. Due to the unavailability of several locations, we are grateful that Good Shepherd opened its doors for us to lift up our hearts to the Lord. If you have an occasion, please take a moment and communicate our thankfulness to the people of Good Shepherd. We regret any inconvenience this may cause you, but we are thankful to the Lord that we were able to secure a facility.