Revelation Explained

This site contains my personal views on Revelation. I will be teaching through the book verse by verse. My teachings will be from a conservative evangelical background.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Second Woe: A Great Army

"Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them." (Revelation 9:16 - New King James Version)

John sees a vast army under the influence of these four demons. The army is so vast that it could not be counted. But John is told the size of the army. It contains 200 million soldiers.

Most commentators doubt that this is a physical army. They suggest that this is a demonic force. However, there is no reason for this not to be an army of men. Although vast in size, it would not be impossible for such an army to be raised if the entire world was up in arms.

There are unsubstituted claims going back to the 1960s that China had enough trained militiamen to field an army of this size. According to the CIA's website (, the estimated manpower fit for military service in China in 2005 was over two hundred eighty million. Add to this the armies that the rest of the world could field if the need existed and an army the size John described is possible.

That these armies are under the influence of the four demons does not mean it cannot be a physical army. The book of Daniel makes it clear that demonic forces influence the course of history. The angel Gabriel told Daniel, “Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? And now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.” (Daniel 10:20 – King James Version)

The Persian king was under the influence of a demon who had taken the title prince of Persia. The angels were fighting against this demon and its human puppets. However, Gabriel know that soon Alexander the Great and his Greek army would march against Persia under the influence of another spiritual being. Although, we might not like the idea, our government is strongly influenced by spiritual powers both evil and good. There is a vast spiritual war raging, and its battles often spill over into the physical realm resulting in riots, conflicts and wars.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Second Woe: Four Demons

"And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men." (Revelation 9:13-15 - King James Version)

Under the second woe, the great fear of modern man comes to pass: Nuclear War. We are not give all the details, just enough to let us envision the horror of this time.

When the sixth trumpet sounds, the Apostle John hears a voice from the golden altar. This altar has already been mentioned twice in Revelation. Both times it is connected with the prayers of the saints.

In chapter six, it is the prayer of the Tribulation martyrs. This prayer is, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:10 – King James Version)

This prayer will be answered fully under the seventh trumpet. However, what happens here under the sixth trumpet is to some extent the beginning of the answer. The events described begin with an act of God, the releasing of four powerful demons.

These four demons are even now bound in the Eurphrates river. We do not know why God imprisoned these demons in this location. God has planed a specific moment at which they will be released. After thousands of years of confinement, they will once again be able to act out their wicked desires. The end result of their freedom will be the destruction of one third of the world's population.

Early in the Tribulation, under the events related to the Fourth Horsemen: Death, we were told that a quarter of the world's population died. The combined effect of just these two elements of the Tribulation will be the death of half of the people on the earth.

We are not told how many die as a result of the other events: the wars, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami waves, poisoned waters and all the horrors that would accompany such disasters. The Tribulation will be a time when billions of people die. There will be few people left when it is over.

Friday, February 24, 2006

First Woe: A King

"They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon. The first woe is past; behold, two woes are still coming after these things." (Revelation 9:11,12 - New American Standard)

Verse eleven is an additional argument for the locust being demonic in nature. Abaddon and Apollyon, both mean destroyer. This would seem to be a reference to Satan. He is the one who comes “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” (See John 10:10) Either these locust are demons lead by Satan, or they are creatures under demonic control. Which ever is true, the suffering endured by people will be intense.

There are two trumpets left to sound. Two more woes yet to come. They will be worse than this first woe.

The events of the Tribulation should make us realize just how vain it is to live for the things of the world. They will be destroyed. We should rather be trying to reach all that we can with the Gospel before these evil days come.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

First Woe: Locust Described

"The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. Their hair was like women's hair, and their teeth were like lions' teeth. 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. They had tails and stings like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months." (Revelation 9:7-10 - New International Version)

Some things about John's description of the locust seem fantastic while others fit another Biblical description of actual locust. The book of Joel was written during a terrible plague of locust in Israel. This plague was an attempt by God to turn the people towards repentance. He describes the locust this way:

For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion. . . . The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so they run. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. (Joel 1:6; 2:5,6 – King James Version)

The description of John is not that different from Joel's. There is only one element of John's description which makes these locust abnormal; their tail like a scorpion's tail. It is not impossible that some experiment produces these locust which do not eat plants but feed on animals and have a poisonous venom which they store in their scorpion like tails. If this is the case, then possibly the meteor which strikes the earth sets off another round of volcanic eruptions or earthquakes which in some way allows the escape of these genetically altered creatures into the open.

The more common view of this passage is that John is describing demons which attack man and cause this painful condition. From Scripture, we know that demons can cause many types of physical ailments.

Friday, February 17, 2006

First Woe: Out of the Smoke

"Then out of the smoke came locusts upon the earth, and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months; and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a man. And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death flees from them." (Revelation 9:3-6 - New American Standard)

The locust in verse three are described in terms which apply to no locust that exist. For this reason, they are generally believed to be of a demonic nature: either insects altered by demonic power, or else demonic beings directly tormenting people. However, we should not discount the possibility of these creatures being a result of some genetic experiment.

Normal locust are vegetarian. They destroy all plants in their path. Man suffers because they destroy his food source.

The locust of Revelation are not vegetarian. They attack people. Only those with the seal of God on their forehead are protected. Most commentators take this as a reference to all the believers of the Tribulation period. I think it more likely refers just to the 144,000 of chapter seven.

The bite of the locust is not deadly but causes great torment like that of a scorpion's venom. There are many types of scorpions and the sting of most is not deadly. Some scorpion stings are said to cause unspeakable pain. Other effects can include sweating, increasing heart beat, high blood pressure, blurred vision, slurred speech, twitching, seizures, chest pain, vomiting, diarrhea, cardiac failure or coma. Those who die a result of scorpion venom are often found to have internal bleeding. Death from a scorpion sting is avoidable in almost all cases with appropriate medical help. Most deaths occur in undeveloped countries or remote areas.

The pain caused by the locust of Revelation will be so intense that those afflicted by it will want to die. But the wound will not be deadly. Verse six could also mean that they will be too weak to take their own lives. They will have to endure the torment.

Monday, February 13, 2006

First Woe: Fallen Star

"Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit." (Revelation 9:1,2 - New King James Version)

Chapter nine is one of the most difficult passages in Revelation to understand. The Apostle John may even have had trouble comprehending what he saw. In this chapter, he uses the words as and like twelve times, attempting to describe what he saw using familiar images.

The first puzzle in this passage is the identity of the star mentioned in verse one. The language seems to indicate not a physical heavenly body such as a star, comet or meteor, but to an intelligent being. Although, I think we should not rule out the possibility of it being a meteor.

In the original the word for fall is in the past tense. This is a star that had fallen to the earth, John does not say that he say the star fall. He says that he saw a fallen star. Angels in the Bible are sometimes called stars. Jesus said that he saw Lucifer fall to the earth. So if this star is in individual, Satan is a likely candidate.

To the star is given the key to the bottomless pit. The bottomless pit is literally, the shaft of the abyss. This is the center of the earth. The earth has no bottom; if we could travel to the center of the earth, our sense of weight would slowly decrease as we approached the middle until we reached a point where gravity would be pulling equally in all directions and there would be no up or down, no top or bottom. So the earth is bottomless!

The opening of the bottomless pit or shaft of the abyss, should be related to the context of the ecological disasters of the first four trumpets. The shaft of the abyss is a volcano. The smoke is the result of a tremendous eruption.

If this star is not Satan but an actual meteor, than the crashing of this large meteor into the earth will set off this volcanic eruption.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Fourth Trumpet: Darkness

"The fourth angel sounded, and a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were struck, so that a third of them would be darkened and the day would not shine for a third of it, and the night in the same way. Then I looked, and I heard an eagle flying in midheaven, saying with a loud voice, 'Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!' " (Revelation 8:12,13 - New American Standard)

I believe that the forth trumpet will sound around the beginning of the fifth year of the Tribulation. By this time, the volcanic ash will be so thick in the atmosphere that there will be total darkness where it is overhead. In these areas, it will be as if the sun, moon and stars do not exist.

In verse thirteen, most Greek texts have the word for eagle. Others have the word for angel. Regardless, the meaning is clear. The last three trumpets will usher in disasters worse than the first four. On the basis of this verse, these last trumpets are called the Three Woes. Mankind might think at this point of the Tribulation that he has survived the worst that could possibly happen; if so, he would be wrong.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Third Trumpet: Wormwood

"The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water— the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter." (Revelation 8:10,11 - New International Version)

Verses ten and eleven describe a great star named Wormwood. This star could be a star, a meteor or a comet. The one which best fits the description would be a comet. There is no record of a comet of significant size hitting the earth, so we have no historical event upon which to understand what might occur.

In his book, Tibulation Triad (Bogard Press, 1983, page 67), Tom McElmurry writes about what might happen if a comet hits the earth:

The main parts of a comet are the tail, the nucleus, and the coma. The nucleus is made up of dust, frozen hydrogen, helium, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and cyanogen. . . . Cyanogen [is] a poisonous gas that liquefies at minus 21 degrees centigrade. Cyanogen may be thought of as the parent substance of cyanides of all types. . . . Our most recent spectrographical observations of a comet, the comet Kohoutek, at radio wavelengths revealed the presence of methyl cyanide and hydrogen cyanide. “Wormwood” means “undrinkable” - and I believe that the chemical composition of a comet is capable of generating sufficient poison into the earth's water supply to kill the “many men” of Revelation 8:11.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Second Trumpet

"And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed." (Revelation 8:8,9 - King James Version)

The second trumpet announces further natural disasters which are related to the movement of the tectonic plates. Notice carefully what John wrote. He does not say that a mountain was cast into the sea. He says, AS IT WERE a mountain was cast into the sea. The point is that all of a sudden a mountain appeared in the sea where none had been before.

Many of the fault lines along which earthquakes and volcanic activity occur are under water. What John saw was a new island created by a volcanic eruption on the sea floor.

John also states that a third of all the oceans turn a blood red color. In salt water, there are little microscopic creatures called dinoflagellate. Normally they are harmless. However, when they multiply at a great rate, this creates what is called a Red Tide. The Red Tide is deadly to fish and other sea creatures. John tells us that a third of all life in the sea will be destroyed. Although scientists are not sure what causes a Red Tide to occur, an increase in water temperature is one factor that is mentioned. Lava heating large areas of the ocean, along with other factors, could cause Red Tides on the scale that John describes.

We are also told that one third of the world's ships are destroyed. This is caused by another natural event which is caused by the movement of tectonic plates. Because of the awful events of December 2004, the world is now familiar with the power of tsunami waves. Out in the ocean these waves are harmless because the pressure is spread over a a large water column. But as they approach land, the water depth decreases and the wave rises from the sea to a height of several stories. They are very destructive.

It is estimated that about one third of all ships are in port or coastal waters at any given time. These ships will be smashed to pieces when the tsunami waves caused by the world-wide earthquakes hit the world's coast lines.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The First Trumpet

"Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them. The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up." (Revelation 8:6,7 - New International Version)

It is important in taking a literal view of Revelation to understand the terms used and to seek a reasonable meaning for what is said. The English translation of verse seven has resulted in many strange interpretations.

Two terms in particular are important to understand. The Greek word translated hail has as its basic meaning, that which is let loose. It can refer to any object which falls out of the sky. Of course, hail is one such object but, by no means, the only object to which this word could apply. The Greek word translated blood can refer to any blood red liquid.

In the context of the intense earthquake activity which has just occurred and what we are told in the last part of verse seven, a reasonable interpretation of this verse can be reached.
Earthquakes are caused by movement in the earth's tectonic plates. These plates make up the surface of the earth and form a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. These plates are in constant movement. The forces and pressures caused by their rubbing against one another results in earthquakes. This movement also cause other natural events.

In the book Planet Earth by Jonathan Weiner (Bantom Books, 1986, page 29), the author writes of the interaction between the Pacific Plate and the Asian Plate which meet near Japan. He writes:

Because the sea floor is made mostly of basalt, which is much denser than the continental rock, the Asian Plates rides over the Pacific Plate, and the Pacific sea floor sinks back into the interior of the Earth. Japan is on the edge of a precipice more than 6000 meters deep, known as the Japan Trench. At this trench, the Pacific Plate begins its long slide into the bowels of the earth. . . . The rude burial of so much rock releases a great deal of energy, and as the edge of the plate slides downward, friction causes frequent earthquakes. In addition, though just how it happens is still debated, friction and pressure apparently melt some of the rock, which rises back to the surface in long, hot plumes, and causes volcanic eruptions. Thus, for its burial, the sea floor takes a double revenge – first in earthquakes, then in volcanoes.

From this specific example, we see the close relationship between earthquakes and volcanoes. The cause of one is the case of the other. With the amount of intense earthquake activity occurring at this point in the Tribulation, we would expect an equally violent increase in volcanic activity.

If we connect this volcanic activity to the first trumpet, its meaning falls into place. The hail is not ice but large rocks thrown into the atmosphere to fall back to the earth when these volcanoes blow their tops. The fire mixed with blood is lava flowing after these eruptions.

The destruction of the trees and grass is caused by the volcanic ash which will cover the surface of the earth. Those trees covered with a thick layer of ash will die, about a third of all trees. Most trees will survive because of their deep roots.

However, all grass will die because with their shallower roots, they will not have the means to withstand the effect of the ash. This destruction will not occur over night but over a period of weeks and months as the ash thrown into the atmosphere slowly descends upon the face of the earth.