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Announcing God's Plagues (3)

Revelation 9:1-6
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. 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. And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. 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. They were not allowed 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. During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them. (NIVUK)

As the divinely authorised trumpet calls ring out from heaven, so John sees the effect which God's plagues will have on the earth. The fifth trumpet announced another cosmic event with global consequences. Another great star (Revelation 8:10) fell to earth. Instead of a massive piece of extra-terrestrial matter descending through our atmosphere, the star seems to have an intelligent quality. It is authorised to open the world of the unbelieving dead and demons. This seems to be a reference to the devil (Revelation 9:11).

Pictorially, the shaft of the abyss is the way into a fuming cauldron from which smoke belched out to darken the sky. In John's vision he saw a swarm of ravaging locusts emerge from the smoke which had the ability to sting people. Unusually for locusts, they were forbidden to touch any growing plant. And they had the ability to know who belong to Jesus and those who do not. If the fallen star is Satan (Revelation 12:9) then the locusts are demons and all who are motivated by them, who are allowed to tyrannise the world.

That evil reign of terror is limited (five months represents a short period of time). And yet the suffering is so intense that death will seem preferable, but an option which God does not allow. The plague of locusts in Egypt (Exodus 10:14) ruined the crop and were unpleasant; this plague of evil will directly hurt all who are not marked with God's seal on their foreheads.

As with all divine plagues, they are designed to either bring people to repentance or to expose the depth of rebellion against God which they hold in their hearts. God does want all to repent and live (2 Peter 3:9), but to refuse to submit to Him when He has demonstrated the awesomeness of His power is to reveal the exceptional arrogance of sin. Pharaoh was given every opportunity to repent, but he had no love for God; only a love of his own importance. In the testing times, the humble get better and the proud get bitter. Where is your heart? In love with God and ready to endure, or in love with yourself and angry at God's interferences?

Sovereign Lord. Thank You for Your plans for the world, to reveal who love You and who do not. Forgive me for the times in which I have complained about my troubles, as though You do not care. Help me to see that You are in command of everything and that You long for all to submit to Your authority; and help me to do that also. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams