Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Revelation 10:1-7 Hidden and Revealed Word


KEY TEXT: Revelation 10:1-7 Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. He had a little scroll open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the land, and called out with a loud voice, like a lion roaring. When he called out, the seven thunders sounded. And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down." And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven and swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, that there would be no more delay, but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.

KEY THOT: Before the seventh trumpet was sounded, John saw a mighty angel wrapped in a cloud, his face shining like the sun with a rainbow over his head. His legs were like pillars of fire, his right foot standing on the sea while his left foot on the land. This angel had a  little scroll open in his hand. And he called out like a roaring lion and in a loud voice swore by the Creator-God that there should be no more delay. When he called out, seven thunders sounded but John was forbidden to record the message contained in those seven thunders. Some things are not meant to be revealed to us, but known to all in heaven. We have to content with partial truth and revelation, for even St. Paul acknowledges: "For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away" (1 Corinthians 13:9-10). We will have to be content with partial knowledge of the truth. What is revealed to us is for our obedience: "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law" (Deuteronomy 29:29).

But what is of importance is what the angel said about the seventh trumpet to be blown: "but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets" (v.7). The seventh trumpet will signal the end of this age which has been promised to God's servants and prophets throughout the age. Human history will end and a new age of God's rule in the new heaven and new earth will begin.

We must be careful not to waste our time speculating about things that God has not chosen to reveal to us. Instead, we should focus on obeying what God has already made plain to us and strive to obey God's commands contained in what has been revealed to us so that we may be aligned with the purpose of God described as the "mystery of God.. (to) be fulfilled" (v.7).

The book of Revelation was written not for us to speculate but to encourage us to persevere in times of trials and not compromise our faith when persecution comes.

Abba-Father, You are the Creator-God who knows everything. But You have not chosen to reveal everything to us but only what is relevant to us in our time. Even as Your revelation is partial, our obedience to that revelation must be complete. May You grant us grace to obey. Amen.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Revelation 9:13-21 The Trumpet of Global Conflict


KEY TEXT: Revelation 9:13-21 Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates." So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind. The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number. And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions' heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound. The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts. 

KEY THOT: When the sixth trumpet is sounded, four angels bound at the Euphrates river will be released. These angels are likely to be higher order demons who are given the power to kill, unlike those demons released earlier from the Abyss: "So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind" (v.15). The mention of 200 million mounted troops ("twice ten thousand times ten thousand") suggests that the release of these four angels will trigger a major global military conflict which will result in the death of one-third of mankind by "the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths" (v.17). The mention of fire, smoke and sulfur suggests the use of gunpowder, since sulfur is one of the ingredients in gunpowder. One author suggests that perhaps what John saw was modern military weaponry with its highly destructive fire-power, e.g. shells fired from fast-moving tanks and deadly missiles fired from flying helicopters. However, John could only describe them in terms of pictures he was familiar with. 

While we may speculate on the likely cause of death of one-third of mankind, it is clearly an intensification of the suffering inflicted on earth's inhabitants as a result of their stubborn refusal to repent: "The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts." (vv. 20-21). Mankind will be increasingly aligned with satanism through their worship of demons and the practice of idolatry. These lead to murders (including mass murders by terrorists), sorceries (including all sorts of witchcraft and new age practices), sexual immorality (including all forms of unnatural sexual activities), and thefts (including sophisticated financial frauds and scams). 

The recent exposure of corruptions among high-profile people in Hollywood, in governments and media is but the tip of the iceberg. This moral corruption is happening at every level of our society, and not just confined to these high-profile celebrities. And there is an attempt to normalize such moral and spiritual evil by treating this rising tide of sins as the "new normal". But for God, it is abnormal and such wickedness will not escape His wrath. 

Abba-Father, You are not only loving but holy. You will not allow Your planet to be corrupted by evil without any response of holy wrath. May Your people who are called by Your name stay far from this moral and spiritual corruption. Amen.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Rev. 9:1-12 Judgment of Demons from Bottomless Pit


KEY TEXT: Revelation 9:1-12 And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit.   He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone. And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them. In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, their hair like women's hair, and their teeth like lions' teeth; they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle. They have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for five months is in their tails. They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon. 

KEY THOT: While judgments of the first four trumpets destroy mankind's eco-system, the fifth trumpet releases demons from the bottomless pit (Greek: abyss) to attack unbelievers who are without God's seal on their foreheads. The bottomless pit is where the most wicked demons are confined, unlike the other demons currently roaming around the earth. Luke 8:30-31 describes how the Legion of demons begged Jesus not to send them to the abyss: "And he said, 'Legion,' for many demons had entered him. And they begged him (Jesus) not to command them to depart into the abyss." Even demons are afraid of being sent to the abyss (bottomless pit), where they would be confined until they are released as God's judgment against unbelievers. 

When the fifth angel blew his trumpet, John saw "a star fallen from heaven to earth". Most bible commentators associate this "star" as Satan (a.k.a as Abaddon in Hebrew and Apollyon in Greek, v.11). He would be given the key to the shaft of the abyss to release his demons that are confined there so that they can torment the earth's inhabitants. The period of human suffering inflicted by these terrible demons will be five months: "They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them" (v.5). The period of the demon-inflicted judgment would be prolonged for unbelievers. The suffering would be so intense that many would long for death, but it would escape them (v.6).

Demons are allowed to roam the earth as God's instrument of torment. Sin opens the doors for demonic infiltration into human affairs to cause suffering and in some cases diseases and death. While Western believers tend to think of demons as some sort of primitive superstition, Jesus did not think so. He had to deal with them often in his ministry, right from its early days: "And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 'What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are— the Holy One of God.' But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!"  And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him."

While those demons that are currently not confined to the abyss can do much harm, the day will come when the most wicked demons currently locked in the abyss will be released. And their full destructive power is described by John in verses 7-10.

So, in those days of wrath, not only will the physical environment be in chaos (first four trumpets), but the spiritual realm will also be in turmoil. Unlike current demons who try to hide their activities from us, the demons released from the abyss will display their wickedness in full view of everyone. Unbelievers will see their ugly faces and experience their ferocious wickedness in suffering. No longer will they rely on human intermediaries to do their dastardly and dirty works. The world will know these demons as coming right out of hell.

If the Church is still around, they would be shielded from these on-going destruction, for the seventh trumpet has not sounded...

Abba-Father, help us to turn while we have the time. Deliver us from evil so that we might not suffer the terrible ordeal of Your judgment in the coming days. Amen.