Reflections on Revelation #159

Day 159

Revelation 9:10-11 (NLT)

“10 They had tails that stung like scorpions, and for five months they had the power to torment people. 11 Their king is the angel from the bottomless pit; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon—the Destroyer.”

The fifth trumpet contains many images that would have been familiar to readers in the time of John. Darkness is the opposite of light. In the NT this would represent a philosophy that denies Jesus and the gospel (John 3:18-21, 1John1:5-7). The Abyss is a place where demons are confined (Luke 8:30-31). The tail is a symbol of lying prophets (Isa 9:15).

While many parts of this trumpet remain mysterious, the “plague” is a spiritual one that torments the followers of Satan but does not harm those who are sealed (Rev 9:4-6). It leaves the wicked in suicidal anguish (9:5-6). The sun of God’s Word is eclipsed but not destroyed (9:2-3). The symbolism fits well the Middle Ages and with the effects of secularization in our world today.

Secularization is a process by which people become less and less attached to religious organizations. Secular people are not atheists; they just don’t make time for God and/or religion. Secularization has some positive points, it sets the stage for a deeper appreciation of human rights and religious liberty. The secular commitment to universal education also gives people the tools to search the Word of God for themselves. Bible societies, scientific progress and archaeology are hard to imagine in a world without freedom of thought and faith.

Negatively, the French and Russian revolutions e.g. opened the way for Communism, which made the practice of faith very difficult. Secularization has also paved the way for the wrong kind of ecumenism. There is a type of ecumenism that impoverishes faith and steals away certainty, implying, “Don’t be a fanatic. It doesn’t really matter what you believe!” Secularization has also led to unbridled materialism. If there is no God, then life at its fullest is mainly about shopping, eating and an obsession with things.

The beauty of the fifth trumpet is that it does not harm those who know God. As Jesus said, they can harm the body but not the soul. The ultimate Christian response to secularization is stated by a bumper sticker I saw, “God is not dead; I talked to Him last night.”

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