What you just saw was a rather tame version of what we are about to witness as the trumpet judgments continue. I just wanted to make sure you knew what a swarm of locusts looks like.
If you are just joining us, we are now deep into the horrendous events that will mark the period of history known as The Tribulation – a period of seven years in which most of the world will be destroyed and by the end, nearly all of humanity will be killed. And the purpose for this “great distress unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again” as Jesus called it, is none other than the promised salvation of the nation of Israel and the addition of many souls into heaven – but it also includes the promised justice for the wicked that the world has been waiting for.
If you’ve missed any of the last few weeks, you definitely need to catch up.
So far we have covered the wars and famine of the six seals, which killed off a fourth of the population and moved all the islands and mountains out of place. The first four trumpets caused a third of the earth and trees to be burned up and all the green grass. Followed by a giant meteor wiping out the pacific ocean and the surrounding land masses – killing a third of the sea life and ships and turning a third of the sea to blood. Then another meteor called wormwood disintegrates in the atmosphere and spreads poison all over a third of the fresh water, and finally the sun, moon, and stars develop short circuits and start flickering off for a third of the day and night. Crazy!
And just before we finished last week, John saw an eagle flying around in the sky and yelling to the earth – “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!”
So, if you thought all of that was bad – it’s clearly about to get much worse.
So, let’s pray before we continue…
If you have your bibles, turn them to Revelation chapter 9 and we will see what happens next.
1 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. 2 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. 3 And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. 4 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. 5 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. 6 During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.
7 The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. 8 Their hair was like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. 9 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. 10 They had tails with stingers, like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. 11 They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek is Apollyon (that is, Destroyer).
12 The first woe is past; two other woes are yet to come.
A lot to talk about in this one, and I’ll tell you now that there is no natural explanation for what just happened – though many have tried to make there be one. I’ll let you read that junk on your own.
Let’s start back at the top.
1 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. 2 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.
So, let’s start with the star.
In the third trumpet, the thing that fell to earth was called a star, but we determined, based on the other language in that part, that it was not a true star (like our sun) nor was it an angel since it was distributed over all the water.
This star, however, is referred to in verse 2 as “he” and it is also given a key and opens the shaft to the abyss – not things that inanimate objects usually do, so it’s safe to assume that this star is a heavenly being, an angel. Also notice, that this star is not described as falling, but as having already fallen.
There are many opinions on who this angel is and when he fell. Some like to suggest he is Satan himself, but that is not likely since Satan is never referred to as just an angel or a star. There are actually quite a few roles that people think that Satan plays in these end times, but if you just take the text literally, it’s really not that many. It seems that other fallen angels do most of the dirty work, and he just directs them at times, but mostly the one doing the directing is God himself.
Remember that God controls everything, even the fallen angels. They can only operate within the bounds he sets for them, and sometimes they are given specific jobs to do – even though they are fallen. Even Satan himself is not free to do whatever he wants as we will see later.
So, anyway, this angel is given a key to the shaft of the Abyss. Who gave the key? It doesn’t say.
Let’s talk about the Abyss. The word “abyss” translates and comes from the Greek word ABUSSOS – which literally means “without a bottom” – or a bottomless pit. We find a reference to it in the Gospels when Jesus encounters a demon-posessed man.
26 They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. 27 When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” 29 For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.
30 Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”
“Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. 31 And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.
So, instead Jesus sends them into a herd of pigs that immediately run off a cliff upsetting the local people.
So, clearly these demons knew about the bottomless pit and they did not want to go there.
Later in Revelation we will see that the Beast/Anti-Christ actually comes from this pit. And even later we will see Satan himself locked up in this pit for a thousand years while Christ reigns on earth.
Apparently right now, as we speak, there are countless of these locust demons trapped down there just waiting to be released.
So, where is this bottomless pit exactly?
Well, this one is probably going to make you scratch your head a bit, and you might not believe me at first because we’ve all been brainwashed by modern “science” into believing that their imaginative guesses are proven facts – but there really is no reason to believe that the Abyss is not literally inside of planet earth. Hades too, for that matter.
One indication here is that this angel opens a shaft to the abyss from the surface of the earth, as in a long tunnel through the earth to a part deeper down, and out of it comes a bunch of smoke – a lot like a volcano.
Now, I’m sure you’ve seen the diagrams of what is inside the earth and stars and other planets, but in truth, mankind has never drilled more than a mile or two down (which literally doesn’t even scratch the surface, much less break through the so-called “crust”). And we’ve never seen inside of a star or other planet or moon.
In truth, all that talk about the layers and the hot core and such is just theory – or rather hypothesis – mostly based on the assumption that the planet must have been formed by some random rock cooling down, which itself formed from the random explosion of nothing into something, which apparently made a big bang – but in reality we really don’t know. And the fact that hades and the abyss are usually referred to as being “in the earth” or “under the earth”, why should we assume that they are not?
Lest we forget that in the beginning the earth was created before the sun, moon, and stars. Modern science likes to make planet earth seem insignificant among the zillions of stars – but according to God – we, planet earth, and humanity, actually are the center of the universe – maybe not physically, but in manner of significance – because not only did God make the earth before the stars, and create us humans in his own image – God sent his own Son to this planet to become one of us and save us from ourselves.
The world tries to make you think you are an accident on top of a few billion other accidents. But God created this planet and you specifically and intentionally, and He knows the hairs and even lack of hairs on your head.
It actually makes perfect sense when you think of it that way – that heaven is literally above us in the sky (though hidden) and hell is literally below us inside the earth, and we are in the middle headed for one of them.
Anyway, that should give you something to think about. Now, let’s talk about these demon locusts.
3 And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. 4 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. 5 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. 6 During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.
So, a giant plume of smoke fills the sky, darkening the sun (or what’s left of it) and out of the smoke comes what John can only describe as a swarm of locusts. After the video we watched you can probably imagine why. There are probably billions of them descending on the earth looking like a swarm of locusts. But they are not normal locusts by any stretch.
Several artists have attempted to depict these creatures.
7 The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. 8 Their hair was like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. 9 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. 10 They had tails with stingers, like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months.
I like the one on the left best…
Another interesting thing about these locust demons is that they apparently have a king over them.
11 They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek is Apollyon (that is, Destroyer).
Here’s another artist rendition. Not much else is known about this angel/demon. He doesn’t sound like a very nice guy.
But more important than what they look like and what kind of king they have over them, is what they can do, and what they cannot do.
First, they have power like scorpions to sting and torture people, which normal locusts don’t do, and they are told not to harm the plants, grass, or trees – which is exactly what normal locusts do. So, clearly these are not anything from our world, but a horde of specialized demons that have one purpose – to torture the people of earth for five months.
But not all the people of earth…
The text says that they are only allowed to attack one group of people – those who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. This should immediately make you think of the 144,000 that were sealed a couple chapters ago. So, that will be one group of people who are not effected by this. But many argue that this seal of God will also be on anyone who is a believer at that time. There are a couple of references that point in that direction. One is later at the very end of this book:
1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face,and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
This indicates at some point, all those who will make it to the new heaven/new earth will have the name of God on their foreheads – which is exactly the same seal that the 144,000 got. So, it’s possible that those who are saved through their efforts also get that seal and thus are not affected by these judgments. Which makes sense also since believers are not appointed to the wrath. Seems like this would be a rather good foot in the door for the evangelists as they witness to those in agony from these demons.
Other evidence of this view comes from the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel who has a vision about something soon to happen in Israel at the time.
1 Then I heard him call out in a loud voice, “Bring near those who are appointed to execute judgment on the city, each with a weapon in his hand.” 2 And I saw six men coming from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with a deadly weapon in his hand. With them was a man clothed in linen who had a writing kit at his side. They came in and stood beside the bronze altar.
3 Now the glory of the God of Israel went up from above the cherubim, where it had been, and moved to the threshold of the temple. Then the Lord called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side 4 and said to him, “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.”
5 As I listened, he said to the others, “Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. 6 Slaughter the old men, the young men and women, the mothers and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary.”
And that’s just what they did. Notice that those who were not partaking in the detestable things were saved from the judgment via a mark on their foreheads. So, it seems plausible that during the time of this demon locust judgment that those who are in the faith will not be harmed by them, but that doesn’t stop the non-believers from killing them out of anger and hate and thus adding to the number of that multitude of martyrs we saw in chapter 7.
So, either way, not a good situation to be in. And there’s more.
I’ve already established that we believe that they will only be able to target non-believers. In addition to this, they are limited in that they are not allowed to kill anyone, just torture them, and only for five months.
5 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. 6 During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.
I’ve heard that a scorpion sting is nothing to laugh at. I’m sure it will be quite painful, apparently to the point that those afflicted will try to end it by killing themselves but they won’t be able to. Now, how that works, I don’t know. Perhaps it will be such that they won’t be able to act on the desire because they are so bent up with the pain. Perhaps the demons themselves prevent the people from hurting themselves. Maybe it will be like that movie Groundhog Day and they just keep waking up in the morning no matter what they do. Or maybe they will be like zombies – we don’t know.
All we know is that for five months, no one will be going to hell.
Bet you never thought of it that way. That’s right. Because they are not allowed to die, they won’t be going to hell for their unbelief. Which means that a judgment like this is not spiteful – it is merciful.
It is because of God’s wonderful grace that he is going to give the unbelieving world a little taste of what hell is really like, and not let them die in the process, in hopes that some of them will surrender. And the five month period is not arbitrary. Five is the number of grace.
Remember, that is what this is about. Imagine it. This will be the only time in human history after people started dying that no one will go to hell for a period of five solid months. Did you know that right now, an average of about 152,000 people in the world die each day? Over the course of five months, or 150 days, that totals 22.8 million people whose life comes to an end. (A statistic that does not include those lives ended due to abortion, but I believe those babies go straight to heaven.) So, of the 22.8 million people that actually get to live past birth and get to choose their king, statistics show that only about 20% choose Jesus, which means that right now in a five month span, an average of 4.5 million people go to hell. Or about 30,000 each day.
That should break your heart. It sure breaks God’s heart. Which is why he’s going to do something drastic to get the world’s attention and even shut the doors of hell for five months so that stubborn man has yet another chance to make the right choice.
That is grace.
That is mercy.
That is love.
He is such a loving God that He refuses to change your will for you. He lets us have our way, but that doesn’t stop him from trying everything to convince us to change.
But God does have his limits.
12 The first woe is past; two other woes are yet to come.
After the five months, the gates of hell will be reopened.
13 The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the four horns of the golden altar that is before God. 14 It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” 15 And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. 16 The number of the mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand. I heard their number.
17 The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur. 18 A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths. 19 The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.
When you read something like that it’s really hard to imagine it, and you’d almost rather not. Another 1/3 of mankind killed. That, plus the obvious deaths that must have happened during the previous trumpets brings the population of the earth down below half of what it will be before the rapture. It probably wouldn’t be a stretch to even bring it down to a fourth or about 2 billion considering that north and south America were probably wiped out with the second trumpet. We can’t be sure, but it’s certainly going to be really, really bad.
Let’s take a closer look at the details.
So, the sixth angel blows his trumpet and he is told to release the four angels who are bound at the river Euphrates.
The river Euphrates is a prominent river in the story of the Bible from beginning to end.
It was near the Euphrates that sin began,
the first lie was told,
the first murder was committed,
and the tower of Babel (the origin of an entire complex of false religions that spread across the world) was built.
The Euphrates was the eastern boundary of the Promised Land, and Israel’s influence extended to the Euphrates during the reigns of David and Solomon.
The region near the Euphrates was the central location of three world powers that oppressed Israel: Assyria, Babylon, and Medo-Persia.
It was on the banks of the Euphrates that Israel endured seventy long, bitter, wearisome years of captivity. And it is over this river which the enemies of God will cross to engage in the battle of Armageddon.
So, again, with this death-dealing army originating from this location, it lends more credence to the understanding that this area of the world will be the last one standing when all is said and done and the final fight is fought before the millennial reign.
And apparently these four angels had been kept there, likely since the creation of the world, for this very hour. Now, who these angels are and how they got there, we don’t know, and it’s not worth speculating because it’s not their identity that is important, but what they do.
And the text says that they were held there for this very hour, and day, and month and year. Now, we often hear these terms of time in Scripture and especially in prophecy. Sometimes they are literal and sometimes they are more relative in meaning.
For instance, the “Day of the Lord” actually encompasses the whole seven years of tribulation, which is a rather short period of time in comparison to the whole history of the world, but still clearly longer than a literal day.
Also, the term hour can be used to indicate a relatively even shorter period of time. Later in revelation we see that the ten kings hold power over the earth for one hour before giving it to the beast. This is to indicate a brief period of time, as in only part of the tribulation – rather than a literal hour or 60 minutes. Jesus used the same term when he was being arrested at the Garden of Gethsemane, saying in Luke 22:53 – “This is your hour – when darkness reigns.” Clearly his trial and crucifixion tool longer than an hour.
So, how do we know when the text is referring to a literal or a relative day or hour? You look at the context for clues. For example, in the case of the seven days of creation – which many try to claim are not literal days – the context describes the day as being an evening and a morning. That to me sounds like the same kind of literal days I experience every 24 hours. If the phrase “evening and morning” had been left out it would be reasonable to assume the day could have been just about any length of time. But if you just take the plain sense of the text, it’s hard to argue for anything other than a literal 24 hour day that has an evening and a morning just like today, unless, of course, you are trying very hard to match up the godless version of the history of the world with God’s own account. Which can’t be done. I encourage you to find the series I did almost two years ago called “In The Beginning” on our website if you want the full scoop on that.
This reference here in the sixth trumpet is similar to the one in the creation account in that the context gives us clues as to whether it is a literal or relative timeframe. It doesn’t just say these angels are reserved for this hour and stop, it goes on to specify this very hour, on this very day, in this very month, in this very year. The redundancy is there to indicate that this is indeed a very specific and fixed point in the history of time – currently only known to God.
How they were bound there and why, we do not know, but they clearly have one specific purpose – and that is to kill a third of mankind with an army of apparently 200 million demon soldiers on horses with lion heads and snake tails that breath fire, smoke, and sulfur. Some try to suggest that these are human soldiers, likely from China (which is the only country in the world right now that could field such an army) – but I’m not sure if there are these kinds of horses in China – but maybe with some selective breeding they could make it happen. And that’s, of course, assuming they survive the giant meteor crash into the Pacific ocean that they border and that they for some reason decide to camp out at the river Euphrates which is nowhere near China, all during the five month plague of demon locusts…
You can go that route if you wish. I’m just going to stick with the literal interpretation and say these are demons. If you witness this live later on and I was wrong…I’m sorry.
Either way, rather terrifying stuff. And once again, this very thing is also described in an Old Testament prophecy in a bit more detail. It’s actually possible that this prophecy combines the fifth and sixth seal judgments because there are elements here that could equally apply to both. You can decide.
1 Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy hill.
Let all who live in the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming.
It is close at hand—
2 a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was in ancient times
nor ever will be in ages to come.
3 Before them fire devours,
behind them a flame blazes.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
behind them, a desert waste—
nothing escapes them.
4 They have the appearance of horses;
they gallop along like cavalry.
5 With a noise like that of chariots
they leap over the mountaintops,
like a crackling fire consuming stubble,
like a mighty army drawn up for battle.
6 At the sight of them, nations are in anguish;
every face turns pale.
7 They charge like warriors;
they scale walls like soldiers.
They all march in line,
not swerving from their course.
8 They do not jostle each other;
each marches straight ahead.
They plunge through defenses
without breaking ranks.
9 They rush upon the city;
they run along the wall.
They climb into the houses;
like thieves they enter through the windows.
10 Before them the earth shakes,
the heavens tremble,
the sun and moon are darkened,
and the stars no longer shine.
11 The Lord thunders
at the head of his army;
his forces are beyond number,
and mighty is the army that obeys his command.
The day of the Lord is great;
it is dreadful.
Who can endure it?
Indeed – who can endure it? Well, the answer is: not many. But even in the midst of this terrible and righteous judgment on a mankind that has shaken their fist at God, he still offers them a chance for redemption. Joel continues.
12 “Even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
13 Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and relent
and leave behind a blessing.
Again, the purpose of all these judgments are two fold. One, we deserve it, but Two, God is still extending his hand to those who are tired of resisting and he will forgive them.
But despite the extended hand and despite the clear proof that all of it is true, the truth of the bible and the God of Creation that the world has tried so hard to deny. Despite being forced to see the truth, and even given a taste of the consequence for refusal, the total depravity of man only holds more tightly to the lie.
20 The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. 21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.
It’s like the proverb says..
You cannot separate fools from their foolishness, even though you grind them like grain with mortar and pestle.
In case you don’t know what a mortar and pestle are, here’s a picture. I had to look it up.
Anyway, as I’ve taught before, a fool is not someone who doesn’t know better. A fool is someone who does know better but chooses the wrong path anyway.
At this point in the tribulation, pretty near the mid-point, the remainder of mankind still alive are like that fool. They know the truth, but they reject it wholesale. And this kind of hatred of the truth is not beyond imagination because we see the exact same thing happening today in the news.
Just look at the abortion debate. Despite clear scientific evidence, visual evidence, and just the plain common sense that a baby is a person before it is born – in America alone we have murdered 58 million babies under the preferred lie that they are not people yet. But even Horton the Elephant knows that a person is a person, no matter how small. Surely God’s judgment is just.
Now, the way this is worded often causes us modern people to dismiss it as not something we would ever do. After all, we are well past worshipping little statues of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood…especially in America.
Or are we?
Actually ours are mostly made of cheap metals, plastic, glass, and silicon.
It’s true that in our current western culture, this kind of idol worship is rather foreign to us. Mainly because we are far too busy worshipping ourselves to ever pay homage to anything else – including God Himself. But rest assured, that by this time in human history, we will be right back at it like we have been for most of human history and especially during the ancient model for modern civilization – Rome. For all their sophistication, magnificent architecture, government structures, powerful military, art, poetry, and power – they were a society filled with the literal worship of idols – statues, big and small, of gods and goddesses. Their entire culture revolved around it. Every public place or event included some kind of paying homage to whatever god was the local patron. Don’t think that humanity has outgrown that.
Once we are stripped of most of our modern technologies that we pretend like we’re not worshipping (as we quite literally bow to them and work our schedules around them and freak out if we’re ever more than arm’s reach from them) – but once we’re stripped of those, and the world is left without the restraining of the Holy Spirit – we will certainly revert back to what humanity has done for most of human history and worship idols made of gold, and silver, and bronze, and stone – fashioned with our own hands. Because after all, at the heart of all idolatry is the worship of SELF over God.
Think about it. Why did the ancients worship these false gods? Basically they attributed all of the things that the real GOD provides with being provided by someone or something else. Their worship was always based on what the god or goddess did or provided for them. In other words, it was selfish worship. It wasn’t worship for the sake of glorifying said god, but for the sake of appeasing and even manipulating said god to give me what I want.
Just as we read in Romans 1 last week:
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
Notice they did not glorify or give thanks to God – who is the actual provider, but instead chose to worship the created thing rather than the creator.
And we do the same thing in our culture, just not in the same way. Today, we still pay homage, and worship, or perhaps a better way to say it – devote time and attention to – the things that we see as our providers. Providers of money. Providers of food. Providers of pleasure, entertainment, joy, etc…
We don’t exactly bow down and worship these things, but we do spend most of our time and attention seeking what we need from THESE THINGS rather than from THE ONE who said “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be added to you.”
I’ve spoken on this many times because I believe this is the greatest lie that so many believers have fallen prey to.
And it’s not a lie that we’ve been lead to believe by others, but a lie that we tell ourselves and believe it.
Most people who call themselves Christians would say that they really do want to seek the kingdom of God first, that God is first place in their life, that they truly do strive to follow the command to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. And they really mean it and believe it because they can feel it deep down in their heart. But seeking is not a matter of desire or feeling, but a matter of doing.
It’s like when my 3 year old really wants to find his shoes, but looks for them by lying on the floor crying that he can’t find them. If you ask him, he’ll tell you he’s looking for them.
Clearly he’s not going to find them very quickly that way. And likewise so many believers think that WANTING to seek first the kingdom is all that is needed, and they are disappointed when they can’t seem to actually make any progress in finding it.
Basically, if you want to know how your seeking of the kingdom is actually going…one quick glance at your calendar and your checkbook will tell the real story.
Because what you spend your time on, and what you spend your money on, tells the story of what you truly set your heart on.
Romans 12:1 makes it clear what our true and proper worship for God is: Present your bodies as a living sacrifice.
If your body – which includes your brain – is a living sacrifice, what that means is you are putting all of yourself at the disposal of the King. It means that your whole life will be consumed with a passion to know and follow your Savior. And if that is your all consuming passion, then it will most definitely show itself in what you spend your time and money on.
If most of your time and money are spent on things that seek to please yourself, then guess what you are actually seeking first?
Now, with that said, let me make it clear that I’m not suggesting that every person who is a Christian must give up their life and go live as a monk with no possessions and reciting Scripture all day. That’s not what God wants either, despite the great monastic movement of the middle ages where countless people did just that.
No, God does not want us to take ourselves out of the world, because then how could we be the salt and light he has called us to be?
Instead, I’m referring to your disposable money and time. God understands that we have to work to feed our families. In fact, Scripture is clear that if you don’t work you don’t eat! And God understands you have bills to pay and certain familial and employment obligations. And you should be responsible in taking care of those to the best of your ability as unto the Lord. And we are even told in Scripture to pay taxes.
But once your obligations are taken care of and you have choices on what to do with what’s left, that’s when your true heart shows itself. What do you spend your disposable money on? What do you spend your free time on? Tending to your Thingdom or building His Kingdom? The answer to that will tell you if you have an idolatry problem or not.
And if you find that you do, don’t worry – our Lord and King is all about changing lives. That’s why it’s the vision of this church – we are dedicated to seeing lives changed by the transforming, restoring power of Jesus Christ. It’s not just a catchy slogan. We really mean it, and Jesus can really do it if you let him. Come talk with me sometime if you ever want help in this matter.
As for now, that wraps up the events of the first half of the tribulation as far as my timeline is concerned. Next week we will start covering the events that mark the midpoint in the tribulation – a series of events that are so complex and interconnected that John is given several visions to describe them, and it covers chapters 10 – 14 – all of which speak of events happening nearly simultaneously at the midpoint of tribulation. It’s rather complex and will take me a few weeks to get through. I encourage you not to miss any of those if you hope to understand the whole picture. Feel free to read ahead.