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When All Hell Breaks Loose - Revelation 9:1-12

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10/27/1996
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When All Hell Breaks Loose
Revelation 9:1-12
Skip Heitzig
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66 Revelation - History's Last Chapter - 1996

The book of Revelation exalts Jesus Christ as the soon-coming Lord over the earth. Skip Heitzig explains the amazing and mysterious prophecies that form God's final word to mankind.

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There is a clothing brand that is very popular, it's called No Fear. Have you seen the t-shirts, the bumper stickers? No Fear. I was in the Dallas Airport the other day walking to catch a plane back home and I saw one t-shirt that had the No Fear slogan on the front and on the back it said, 'Absolutely Definitely Positively without a Doubt No Fear.' And then underneath it in parentheses it said, 'No not even just a little bit.' And I thought about that slogan in light of what we read last week and where we're at in the book of Revelation and I thought that will be one t-shirt that will not sell during the tribulation period. It is one slogan that just won't wash because Jesus spoke of the emotion of that particular time period and He said that men's hearts will be failing them from fear and from the anticipation of those things that are coming on the earth. Last week after third service my wife came up and she said, man that was some heavy material we covered this morning. What was the feedback like? And I said well, actually, it was very positive. Many people actually said, I can't wait till next week. And some sentiments were like, hey, thank you for telling the truth and not soft-peddling portions of Scripture like this. And perhaps you were just all stunned at what we read. I mean even I felt sullen and staid after the morning message. And perhaps if you were excited at all about where we were at, you were excited that I stopped the message. Revelation is anything but light, bedtime reading. When you get words like verse 13 of chapter 8, woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, those aren't words that generally people underline and memorize and derive comfort out of in times of depression. They're sullen, hard words.

There was a church that was looking for a pastor and it took two candidates who preached two consecutive Sundays and the first pastor preached a sermon on hell, the second week the second pastor preached a sermon about hell. Different sermon but the same basic material covered. When they voted, the church unanimously voted for the second pastor and they asked why. The answer was, well when the first guy preached it sounded like he was glad people were going there. When the second one preached it sounded like he was bitterly sad that anyone would. When we go through the Bible, we go through the Bible. We don't choose our curriculum. It would be very easy to say, well we'll just sort of spiritualize all these symbols and say, well you know chapter 16 through 19, I'll give you a five-minute synopsis: it was bad. It's real bad--and then move on to the glorious kingdom age. But I don't think we can do that. We're simply reading what was foretold by the prophets and by Jesus who said a time is coming on planet earth that will be worse than any other time known to man. You might say well what could be worse than what has already transpired? I mean, two world wars, the Holocaust, plagues, so much tragedy? I'll tell you what could be worse. It is spoken about so often in the Bible. It is called the Day of the Lord. You see, man has had his days, he's had his time, his heyday to do what he wants. But there will be a day when God steps in and says now it's My day. And God will once for all demonstrate the folly of placing all of your stock in the here and the now, the earth, the temporal. And He will demonstrate that in the tribulation period. I see the tribulation really as like the capstone of the argument against uniformity. Uniformity is the teaching that nothing ever changes, everything continues from the beginning exactly the same. There are no cataclysmic catastrophic changes. Well there will come a day when the world will think very differently about that idea. And uniformity would really be abolished during this period.

We've already read chapter 8, the trumpets so far, the destruction so far. Wrath has come upon the earth and men are getting used to the fact that God is giving His wrath from heaven. You know for millennia the heavens have declared the glory of God, the psalmist said. But in the tribulation period the heavens and the earth declare the wrath of God in every single bit of the environment. We saw last week that which was affected and now we look at chapter 9, the first 12 verses and I call it 'When All Hell Breaks Loose,' and you'll see why and I take it very literally. "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. Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them. The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They had hair like women's hair, and their teeth were like lions' teeth." Reminds me of a grade-school teacher I had. "And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle. They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months. And they had a king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon. One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things."

There is a shift of focus in this fifth trumpet judgment. The shift is off of heaven and onto hell, really. All that heaven did not do in the previous devastations, hell will outdo in the fifth trumpet judgment. You know some people say, and I bet you've heard it, I hear it frequently. Whenever hell or heaven is brought up, the agnostic or the atheist will say, hell is on earth and heaven is on earth, man, your hell and heaven are here. You know you make it whatever way it's going to be here on earth. There's no hereafter. There is a real heaven. Jesus assured us of that. There's a real hell. Jesus assured us of that. But in one sense those people who say that are somewhat accurate. There is coming a time when hell will visit the earth and this is that time, during the fifth trumpet judgment. There's a sign outside of a church in Atlanta, Georgia. It's the kind of sign that announces the Sunday morning message and other announcements that they want to give and on this sign it had the sermons, the pastor's message, his sermon title. And the sermon title for the coming Sunday was 'Do You Know What Hell is Like?' Underneath it in capital letters it said, 'Come hear our organist Sunday morning.' I don't think they meant there to be a corollary between the two but it sure looked like that when you read the sign coming up to that church. Now when this does happen it will be no joking matter. It will be unprecedented terror and in verses 1 through 12, there are four things are emerge. Verse one, a star is unfixed. In verse two, a pit is unlocked. In verses 3 through 12, a horde is unleashed. And finally we're going to end up at verse 6, a world is unnerved during this time.

Let's look at verse 1, a star is unfixed: "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." Now this is a different star than what we've read about in chapter 8. Chapter 8 we read about these falling asteroids and mountains from the space coming down into earth and earth's atmosphere. But this is a different star. You say how do you know? Because personality is given to this star. It says to him, to him was given the key to the bottomless pit. This is a star like we might think of a star, in terms of a movie star or a music star, a sports star, a star fallen from heaven to him was given the key to the bottomless pit. This is a star like the star spoken about in Job 38 where angelic spirits are called stars, where it says when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy. Notice too that it's not a falling star. It is a fallen star. In fact, the best translation is a star which had fallen. It's in the Greek perfect tense which means it fell at one time already but there are lingering results to that action. You tell me who that star is. It's Satan. He's called a star in other portions of Scripture, Isaiah 14 says how are you fallen from heaven, o morning star, son of the dawn, you have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations, you said in your heart I will ascend to heaven, I will raise my throne above the stars of God. Jesus said to the disciples, I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning.

Now turn with me for just a moment to Revelation chapter 12. We're going to cheat just a little bit and peek ahead. A great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth and another sign appeared in heaven, behold, a great fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, seven diadems on his head, his tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth to devour her child as soon as it was born. Now skip down to verse 7: And war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, the dragon and his angels fought but they did not prevail nor was there found place for them in heaven any longer. The great dragon was cast out, the serpent of old, called the devil and Satan who deceives the whole world, he was cast to the earth and his angels were cast with him. This is the second time in this chapter they're cast out once before. Now they're cast out again. We know that Satan was cast out of the presence of God but then we see him cast out again beginning in verse 7, probably sometime during the tribulation period. Since he was cast out of heaven the first time, did you know that he's had access to go back? Now that shouldn't surprise you if you're a student of the Scripture. We remember in Job it says in chapter 1 and chapter 2 there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord and Satan came among them. He was cast out of heaven as a permanent occupant but he has had access as a visitor. We are told that he accuses the saints before God day and night. And he must do that a lot because we often feel the brunt of it.

Here he is cast to the earth in Revelation 9 and in verse 7 and onward of Revelation 12. And probably it's that casting to the earth that causes such terror in the second half of the tribulation period. For many months terror unprecedented, five months, is felt upon the earth. And probably this is toward the end of the tribulation period, just before the coming of Christ at the battle of Armageddon and before the kingdom is set up. Brings this to important points. Not all demons are rampant on the earth. Now there will come a time when demonic activity is going to be increased. Satan, during the tribulation period, with angels, demons are cast out upon the earth which I think is what makes the great tribulation such a great tribulation. Cast down to the earth. Now I think about the hassle we go through now. You know, if we fight principalities and powers now on the earth and it's tough for believers now on the earth what it must be like when more fall to the earth from heavenly realms. They're cast out. There's more to come even after Satan is cast down to the earth, he's not satisfied. He has a key now to a pit that we read about in verse 2. A bottomless pit. Do you remember back in 1984 when I say the name of this city it'll click, Bhopal, India. Union Carbide had an explosion in a factory in Bhopal, India. Several thousand people died as they were breathing this odorless, colorless gas. They didn't know what hit them. Five hospitals were filled to overflowing. Something invisible that was very lethal attacked them. And for generations, Satan has been an invisible enemy and an enemy is never as dangerous as when nobody sees him or believes in him. You're a dead duck if you don't believe an enemy who's powerful and you can't see. But it seems that Satan wants visibility and he gets visibility during this time.

I was reading a USA Today poll of American beliefs and they said 95% of Americans believe in at least one supernatural phenomenon and 74% believe in angels. And as I read that I wondered, yeah, but how many believe in this kind? Probably not many. It's so unpleasant, we don't like to think about it. Verse 2 a pit is unlocked. Revelation 9: "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." The word abyssos or abyss. It is a word used seven times in the book of Revelation and each time it refers to this abode of fallen spirits. The abyss. One translation calls it the shaft of the abyss, as if there is some shaft, somewhere, leading to some pit in the center of the earth. Why? Because more hordes of demonic spirits are about to be unleashed on planet earth during this time.

It seems as we go through the Scripture that God has chosen to incarcerate certain demon spirits. There are several hints to that. One is found in 2 Peter 2:4, God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell putting them into gloomy dungeons or chains of darkness to be held for judgment. So some demons move in heavenly realms in conflict with holy angels. Some demons run rampant on earth. And others are incarcerated for something, and I don't know what the sin or procedure is to get there, you might say, what kind of demons go to that pit? All I can say is they must be really, really bad ones. Not that any of them are good or on probation, but some are consigned to this pit. Now turn with me to the book of Jude for just a moment. It's the book right before Revelation; it's easy to spot. Just turn left first block, book of Jude. Verse 5, there's only one chapter. But I want to remind you though you once knew this, that the Lord having saved the people out of the land of Egypt afterward destroyed those who did not believe and the angels who did not keep their proper domain but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day. As Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having giving themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh are set forth as an example suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." Many believe this refers to the incident in Genesis 6 where these fallen creatures tried to cohabitate with women, at least that's one take, that's one interpretation of Genesis 6. That demons tried to cohabitate in a perversion with earthly women and formed this unredeemable race that God drowned in a flood.

The example that is given in the book of Jude is Sodom and Gomorrah. We remember what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah. The men of the city wanted to have homosexual relations with angels. Strange flesh. And they were judged because of it. And that is the example used of these angels, perhaps because in Genesis 6, in reverse these angels wanted to have sexual relations with women. That is how many scholars and most Jewish scholars from times past will interpret that. Now that aside you remember the incident when Jesus is at the Sea of Galilee and He goes to a city called Gedera. And there's a man who's demon-possessed and Jesus is about to cast the demons out of the man and they have an unusual request. We know who you are, Son of God, don't send us into the abyss, the abyssos, the shaft of the abyss, send us to that herd of swine. Even the demons didn't want to go there. And they must've known that God was in the habit of sending certain demons there because they begged adamantly and the idea is they kept asking, don't send us there, don't send us there whatever You do! So not only the incident way back when but God was in the habit of incarcerating demon spirits because of something perhaps that they did.

Well now in Revelation 9 the pit is unlocked, a release is going on and even more demon spirits come on the scene so the entire force of demon power is running rampant on the earth. Now stop just for a moment with that thought. As I read that this week, a thought occurred to me so strong and that is, thank God for the Holy Spirit! Who is the restrainer presently of evil upon the earth. Paul called the Holy Spirit the One who hinders and He will continue to hinder, that is the swarm of evil, until He be taken out of the way. How will He be taken out of the way? When the church is taken out of the earth. The Holy Spirit lives in Christians now and we will be taken out of the earth. The Spirit will not be taken out of the world, He'll still be active, but He'll be taken out of the way because the church won't be around to stop the spread of evil. Now the church in many areas of the world is lame and weak, but we are still the salt of the earth, the light of the world, and for generations now the world has been saying, these Christians are in the way. These fundamentalists are so narrow. They stop freedom and progress. We just wish they were gone! One day God will answer their request and remove the church from off the earth and there will be no more narrow-minded Christians preaching the gospel. There will be no more Christians stopping abortions or stopping immoral government, or at least trying. And the world will have its way. It'll become like a festering sore, rotting meat. You think the world is bad now. Wait until God removes us from it and lets the enemy have his heyday.

Which brings us to a personal point. Do you see yourself as a preservative? Would it make a difference if you were removed from your situation in life, your sphere of influence? A newspaper in the Midwest ran an article after a storm that said we're pleased to announce that the cyclone which blew the church away last Friday did no real damage to the town. Boy that church didn't make much of an impact. If they could be removed and it's like, no big deal, no problem. Will you be missed when you leave? The idea is that the church should be missed when we're blown out of here. Well let's look back at Revelation 9 and the third cut of this story is a horde is unleashed. In verse 2, smoke like a great furnace comes out; the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit, and out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth and to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. Verse five they torment men for five months. Verse seven is how they look. The shape of the locust was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold and their faces were like the faces of men. We can only imagine what John must have been thinking as he saw this and recorded it. Just must have stunned him. One writer says picture what the world would be like if we were to open all the doors of all the penitentiaries on the earth and set free the world's most vicious and violent criminals, giving them free reign to practice their infamies upon mankind. It will be infinitely worse than that as Satan is allowed to summon to his aid the most diabolical fiends from the pit of hell to cause men to get to their knees for the Antichrist's cause. Out of the pit, we notice, comes this cloud, this ugly black pollution as hell is belching out its corruption. I'm sure the air management quality control won't know what to do at this time. Think of all the forest fires, of all the earth and all the smoggy cities and the oil fires of Kuwait not holding a candle to this. Everything environmentally has been affected, have you noticed that, from chapter 8? The earth has been affected, the grass has been affected, the trees have been affected, the seas have been affected, the freshwater has been affected, the sky has been affected, now the air is touched that people see and breathe. The strange blackness covers whatever is left of the sun and the moon and the stars.

When I lived in Israel for a period of time I was warned about this strange wind that comes periodically across that land. It's a hot eastern wind and sometimes it's a southwest wind from Egypt and they say, we'll warn you, lots of bugs come when this wind blows. And the bugs will be everywhere. Now I hate insects. It's like I could stand up to things but I see this little insect, ah! I don't like bugs, they really bug me. And sure enough when that wind came these bugs were everywhere in almost everything. There is a particular locust, and some have tried to draw a corollary to this, it's called the short-horned grasshopper that can increase very rapidly and can swarm through areas very quickly. They breed in desert places and they search for cultivated land for food. They're about two inches long, four to five to six inches are their wingspan, and they can travel in columns of 100 feet tall and they're four miles deep. It is said when a swarm of locusts like this comes it's like an eclipse of the sun. You can't see even huge buildings that are just hundreds of feet away. It just assumes everything. And when they leave it's like the ground has been scorched. Every blade of grass is gone. It looks like a fire burned the earth. In 1866, a plague of locusts invaded Algiers and so total was the destruction that after the locusts left 200,000 people died because of famine. The worst locust plague in the Middle East, they say, is in 1951, where every green thing was devoured over hundreds of thousands of square miles. It was eaten down to the bare ground.

Ok, that's locusts and that's the appearance John keeps saying like, like, like. Five times. This is what it looked like to me. He's simply showing in vivid imagery the horror of the judgments. These are not normal locusts. These aren't locusts like in Algiers, these are locusts from hell. The reason I don't think they're insects, number one, it says in Proverbs 30 that locusts have no king. There's no command central; there's no brainpower. If you want to stop a horde of locusts as a plague, where do you begin? You don't talk to the queen like bees have. They have no king. They go in swarms. Here they are commanded and they follow the commands. There's a king over them called Abaddon named also Apollyon. Also locusts normally eat vegetables, green things, grass, vegetation. Here they don't do that. Verse 4 they were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth or any green thing or any tree, only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. Now we could spiritualize this, it would be a convenient and I think it would be a wrong way out of the book of Revelation. Well this is symbolic of this and this is symbolic of that. I think it's a symbol of a very real plague that will hit the earth. Joel also saw this in Joel 1:6 this is what he said, a nation has come up against the land, strong and without number. His teeth are the teeth of a lion; he has the fangs of a fierce lion. Their appearance is like the appearance of horses, like swift steeds, so they run. I don't know what these things are. They're like designer locusts of some kind. Perhaps genetic mutations. There is so much experimentation these days in genetics. In fact some see it as the salvation of the future. If we can create new species and breeds of animals that have built-in super immune systems and ways to help mankind, oh how we could help mankind. For example, lambs are born on a farm in Scotland. Their genetic construction has been so altered they produce now a drug called Alpha I Antitrypsin in the milk that helps those in the human realm who suffer from lung disorders. In Britain researchers from the Rosland Institute report progress in breeding genetically engineered chickens capable of producing drugs and vaccines in their eggs. It could be, we don't know, but perhaps tied to some genetic experiment gone nuts. These mutant locusts that have this strange appearance. We know certainly that whatever they are inhabited by demons of hell. Look at verse 3 once again: out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. To them was given power as scorpions of the earth have power. That's mentioned again in verse 5. It says their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. In verse 10, their tails like scorpions, their stings are in their tails, they have power to hurt men five months. The Spirit doesn't want us to miss that point. The assignment that these locusts are given is pure torment for five months. Remember these spirits have been pent up for a long time and now they seek to torment people.

Scorpions, in the natural realm, are not always lethal. Now small children being bit by a scorpion have been known to die but many adults have been stung by a scorpion and the poison affects the nervous system and it's like your whole nervous system is set on fire. It is said that when somebody gets the full brunt of a scorpion's sting, that they writhe on the ground, foam at the mouth, and grind their teeth in agony. When I lived in Israel and the bugs came, one night I went to bed in my little shack that I lived in a kibbutz in, and I was going to bed and pulled back the sheets and there in the middle of my bed, standing on its hind legs with its tail curled up, was a scorpion. A sizeable one. He was ready for a fight. I was not. I'm a man of peace when it comes to scorpions--I try to negotiate. Flee! Shoo! And that didn't work so I took a pillow and threw it outside. I didn't sleep well that night. I thought, he might have friends who've come to the party. Another experience that I had that I thought about when I read this is when I was in the Philippines one time I was teaching at a pastor's conference, there was a break between sessions and everybody was outside under a coconut palm. And they were all looking at the ground so I wanted to see what was going on and they were looking at a bug called a coconut weevil. The coconut weevil that I saw was the size of my fist. That's just the body. It was the size of my hand and I kind of have monkey hands so it was pretty big and it was on the ground and this hard body the size of my fist was like a breastplate, it was like a shell. You could tap it. It was hard like that. And there was a kid that put his weight on this thing and his body moved up. It's like this thing would push on its legs upward. I had never seen a bug like this. I went back, came back a couple minutes later, and it was the worst revelation. It was gone. I said where'd it go? They said it flew away. I said you mean it's mobile? Like it could have four or five that could come at night and pick you up and carry you away? I thought what could be worse than having some bug like that move and fly? I thought of those two images this week because these creatures during the tribulation released from the abyss will have the sting of a scorpion and the mobility of a grasshopper, tormenting men for five months upon the earth.

Now when you think of all that has gone on so far in the tribulation you might come to a logical question which is well don't they turn, don't people say uncle, I give up, I can take a clue? Well no doubt some will. But not everyone will. In fact look at verse 20, we're kind of peeking ahead into next week's text. Verse 20: but the rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues did not repent of the works of their hands that they should not worship demons, idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood which can neither see nor hear nor walk. Now think of all that has happened. The church has been raptured and is in heaven. The world has no doubt figured that out by now. They know that what has happened, asteroids falling, a third of the earth destroyed, a third of the seas destroyed, that this is the wrath of God. They've figured it out. They've seen so much leave already in the natural environment. They've heard the gospel preached. There have been 144,000 Jewish evangelists. There's been a multitude of people preaching the gospel from tribes and nations of the earth. Two witnesses, two dynamic preachers, that we'll read about in the next few chapters are around. An angel goes back and forth all over the earth in the atmospheric heavens proclaiming the everlasting gospel. They've heard it. They've seen the collapse of the world peace, the world dictator. They've seen the loss of the earth and the stars and the seas and everything else. And now they're faced with this. Dr. Henry Morris said God allows them to experience a little direct fellowship with their future cohabitants in the lake of fire. That's quite a statement. In verse 5 they were not given authority to kill but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of the scorpion when it strikes a man. Again, they are limited in their destruction. The king over them is called destroyer and yet they're not allowed to kill. You know I think they would if they could. I think that more than anything else they would love to just kill people and send them immediately to hell. But it doesn't happen. The torment lasts for five months. Jesus said the thief, speaking of Satan, does not come except to steal and to kill and to destroy. Satan wanted to kill Job, remember? And God said, ok, you can affect him up to this much but don't touch his body. It was a restrainer.

Martin Luther said that the devil came to him. I don't know exactly what that means, I've read about it. But he said several occasions the devil would appear to him and on one occasion Martin Luther said the devil came and said, let me come into your heart. I want to discuss some very important matters with you. And Martin Luther classically answered, I don't have the keys to the door. Ask God--He's got them. He knew that God sovereignly had a restraining control over what and what not He would allow the enemy to do. Now another note before we move on to our last point, sometimes people will talk about what they gave up to become a Christian. I roll my eyes when I hear them. I gave up so much to become a Christian! I was wealthy, I was popular, I was this and I gave it all up and took up the old rugged cross to follow Jesus. Get a grip! What did you give up? Loneliness, misery, isolation, hell, torment. Gave up a lot. Look what God gave up to redeem you so that men would not have to face what He said would come upon the earth that they would turn. We're going to close with verse 6. I call this a world is unnerved. In those days men will seek death. They will not find it. They will desire to die and death will flee from them. This point they see no future, no hope, the environment is gone, the sea is gone, the sky is gone. They just want to die. I heard that during the Korean War, American troops were captured kind of faced the same hopelessness. In fact, they did not try to escape by and large like in World War II where our troops tried and in some cases succeeded in escaping the enemy strongholds. In Korea so strong was the captivity they saw no vision, no future, no hope. They were assumed by their captivity. During this time people will attempt suicide, there will be multitudes of Dr. Kevorkian's, no doubt, but to no avail. Now I don't know if you've been in a secular bookstore recently and noticed what's on the top seller list but there's a book that outsold its first printing and it is still usually in the top ten and the bestseller list. It's a manual on suicide and it's called The Final Exit by Derek Humphreys. Derek Humphrey is the founder and the director, executive director, of what he called the Hemlock Institute. And in the book he explains in practical terms how to kill yourself and help others do the same. He outlines in his chapters exact lethal dosages of eighteen prescription drugs, gives you a formula. And there's a chapter, a step by step way to asphyxiate yourself using a plastic bag over your head. It's a bestseller. During this time people will grab for books like that but to no avail. Bullets will not be fatal, blows will not crush, it will unsuccessful. Death will take a holiday during that time. This is the worst thing I have ever read about or could imagine happening on earth. There are times when death is a blessing not a curse.

Now as I read this, I thought of the words of Jesus, our loving Savior, who said it will be the worst time in history. And as I read about this fifth seal that we're reading about, I thought this is like hell come to earth. It's like a little foretaste of eternal hell. And I thought, man, if earth is bad for five months, imagine what hell would be like for eternity. I'm not saying that to be sensational--it's here. It's written. And why wouldn't people turn? The answer is very, very plain. John said men love darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil neither would they come to the light lest their deeds should be exposed. There are several famous people that were asked a question. They said what is the saddest word in the English language? It's an interesting question. If we were to ask you that this morning and take the answers, I bet we'd have some interesting ones. T.S. Eliot, the poet, said the saddest word in English is of course the word saddest. The lyricist Oscar Hammerstein said the word but. That little negative conjunction is the saddest word in English. John Keats said it was the word forlorn. Psychiatrist Karl Menninger said unloved is the saddest word. Statesman Bernard Baruch said hopeless is the saddest word in English but Alexander Tolstoy said the word in all languages which has brought the world to its present condition is the word atheism. Pushing God away, pushing God out. I want nothing to do with God, I want nothing to do with God's people--get out of my face! He said that's the saddest that has brought the world to its present condition. That is why in chapter 8 the last verse is woe, woe, woe. It's not a commercial advertisement. They're words of mercy so that when earth would hear those woes, woe, woe, woe, there's more to come, that there would be an interim where people would say, I'm turning my life over to Jesus Christ. Perhaps that is why there are 600 warnings in the Bible about hell. Perhaps that's why Jesus Christ spoke more about hell than anyone else in the Bible. A lot of people don't want to hear about it today. But you know Paul said, knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men. Some people think every sermon should be uplifting and we should never talk about this stuff, it will ruin a person's appetite. What it does for me is it makes me think of the grace, the mercy, and the faithful steadfastness of God who would give warning after warning after warning and be honest and not cloud the truth in a simple little sermon and just say, I love you, I died for you, this is what is coming on the earth. Don't go through that--turn now. Turn ye, turn ye, for why would you die, said God. That's steadfastness, that's faithfulness. And it makes me want to get on the ball and share with people the love of God lest they face the wrath of God.

Additional Messages in this Series

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6/9/1996
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Good News from a Bad Place
Revelation 1:1-8
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6/16/1996
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Catapulted into the Future
Revelation 1:9-20
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6/23/1996
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When Love Grows Cold
Revelation 2:1-7
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6/30/1996
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Postcard to Those in Pain
Revelation 2:8-11
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7/7/1996
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The Curse of Compromise
Revelation 2:12-17
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7/14/1996
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Corruption without Discernment
Revelation 2:18-29
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7/21/1996
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Church of the Living Dead
Revelation 3:1-6
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7/28/1996
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Body Building - God's Way
Revelation 3:7-13
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The human body has become the obsession of our modern culture. Much like the ancient Greeks, people are madly trying to fit the contemporary ideal of what is an acceptable shape and size. The church is metaphorically called the "Body of Christ" and His desire is to see it built up spiritually. The church of Philadelphia is a good model of a healthy, faithful church. Their example provides for us a template to follow in building up the Body - God's Way!
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8/19/1996
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Taking Your Spiritual Temperature
Revelation 3:14-22
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Ever since we were kids our moms stuck thermometers in our mouths whenever she suspected that we were sick. If our body temperature of 98.6 had climbed up just a few notches, it was always a good indication that an unhealthy condition was present. There is also a spiritual temperature that reveals the condition of our souls, and when the thermometer reads Lukewarm it indicates that something is wrong; it indicates the presence of danger. Let's see how Jesus, the Great Physician, treats his patient with this malady.
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8/25/1996
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Peeking into the Portals of Heaven
Revelation 4
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9/1/1996
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History's Greatest Real Estate Deal
Revelation 5:1-7
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9/8/1996
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Worship His Majesty - Part 1
Revelation 5:8-10
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In heaven there won’t be just three services in the morning and one at night with a midweek tacked on. There will be no need to be sensitive to time so we can go to lunch. Words will not have to be printed nor projected. Worship leaders will have no need prompting people to sing. It will be an all-consuming experience that will involve our total cooperation and enthusiasm.
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9/15/1996
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Worship His Majesty - Part 2
Revelation 5:11-14
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9/29/1996
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Four Riders with Bad News
Revelation 6:1-8
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10/6/1996
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The Cries of Heaven and Earth
Revelation 6:9-17
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10/13/1996
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A Blessed Interruption in a Tough Time
Revelation 7
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10/20/1996
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Trumpets of Doom
Revelation 8
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11/3/1996
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Angels of Mass Destruction
Revelation 9:13-21
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11/10/1996
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A Big Angel with a Little Book
Revelation 10
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11/17/1996
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Two Powerful Preachers
Revelation 11:1-14
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11/24/1996
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Light at the End of the Tunnel
Revelation 11:15-19
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12/1/1996
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The Panorama of Spiritual Warfare - Part 1
Revelation 12:1-6
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12/8/1996
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The Panorama of Spiritual Warfare - Part 2
Revelation 12:7-17
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There aren't many people who like to fight. Confrontation is something most would like to avoid. But in the spiritual realm it's unavoidable. The question isn't, "Will I engage in spiritual warfare?" Rather, the question is, "How well will I fight?" As we saw last week, the war in the heavens makes its way to the theater of the earth. Let's see what else it entails.
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12/15/1996
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The Coming Global Leader
Revelation 13:1-10
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12/22/1996
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Evil's Right-Hand-Man
Revelation 13:11-18
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12/29/1996
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The Lamb Who Shepherds His People
Revelation 14:1-5
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After all that john has seen in his apocalyptic vision, seeing the docility of a lamb standing with his overcoming sheep is a welcomed sight. Although the dragon pursues god's people relentlessly, although the beasts are bent on ruling the earth, the ultimate winner will be the lamb and his followers.
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1/5/1997
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Angels Set The Record Straight
Revelation 14:6-13
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1/12/1997
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It's Harvest Time!
Revelation 14:14-20
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One of the most common ways to make a living in ancient times was to "work the land." The early rains of October/November and the soft latter rains produced the wheat and barley harvest later on. Also, when vintage season began, almost the whole village could be found in the fields harvesting the crop. Such images would also provide a poignant way of depicting the final judgment of the earth, as in this section.
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1/17/1997
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Getting Ready for the Grand Finale
Revelation 15:1-8
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1/26/1997
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What's in the Bowl? - Part 1
Revelation 16:1-11
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We now come to the "seven last plagues" of God in the Great Tribulation that is coming upon planet earth. These judgments come in the form of "bowls" being poured out swiftly and completely-the judgment will be swift and thorough. Yet through all the mercy as Well as wrath of this awesome era, people will persist in having a hardened heart. Open your heart 'right now to these truths.
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2/2/1997
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What's in the Bowl? - Part 2
Revelation 16:12-21
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What will the end of the world be like? What are the final events just before Jesus returns and takes over to set up His millennial reign? That's what this section tells us. There will be increased warfare activity in the Middle East, massive deception, and unheard of destructive cataclysms on earth. In the midst of foretelling these events, Jesus has a word of encouragement.
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2/9/1997
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The Coming World Religion
Revelation 17
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It was Karl Marx who stated, no doubt cynically, that religion was the opiate of the masses. The fact is, he was right-it is! People are driven to worship something or someone. This desire will be exploited to the hilt in the Tribulation period and will be under the umbrella of the world dictator-the Antichrist. What are its roots and how does it end?
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2/16/1997
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Get out of Babylon!
Revelation 18
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Someone once said, "Money can't buy you friends but your enemies treat you a little better." Though meant to be tongue-in­cheek, that won't happen when the entire world economy collapses. God's shakedown of the earth will include everything that the Antichrist's kingdom will embody, from the sacred to the secular.
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3/2/1997
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Marriage Made in Heaven
Revelation 19:1-10
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3/9/1997
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The Return of Jesus Christ - Part 1
Revelation 19
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Even in the dome of our capitol in Washington there is an inscription which seems to point to the return of Jesus Christ. It says: "One far-off divine event toward which the whole creation moves." It is that event which we will be studying in the next two weeks. This is what all Christians of all ages have looked forward to - His return and reign of His creation.
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3/16/1997
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The Return of Jesus Christ - Part 2
Revelation 19
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Even in the dome of the capitol in Washington there is an inscription which seems to point to the return of Jesus Christ. It says: "one far-off divine event toward which the whole creation moves." it is that event, that Christians of all ages have looked forward to-his return and reign of his creation. We will conclude our study of the return of Jesus Christ, today.
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4/6/1997
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Paradise Regained
Revelation 20:1-3
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4/13/1997
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The Devil's Last Stand
Revelation 20:1-10
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A typical question is, "Will evil ever get its reward?" What ever happened to ethics and justice? Well, we see here that God will not turn His back on this issue. He will deal with the source of all evil (the devil himself) and then judge those who revel in it. This section gives tremendous hope to anyone concerned about injustice in our world.
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4/20/1997
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Life, Death, and Resurrection
Revelation 20:5-6; 20:11-15
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5/4/1997
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All Things New - Part 1
Revelation 21:1-3
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5/11/1997
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All Things New - Part 2
Revelation 21:4-8
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"It's like nothing you've ever seen or experienced before." That's how John describes the emotional experience of heaven. So that we can relate, he tells us that all of the pain, sorrow, and moaning we've endured here won't be there. By the way, only those who want to go there will go there. Heaven is not a destination by default, reservations are made here and now!
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5/18/1997
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The City of the Future
Revelation 21:9-22:5
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There is no architect or builder like God himself. Even the patriarch Abraham "was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God." (Heb. 11:10) he didn't find it in his lifetime. "You won't find you're "happily ever after" here either, but the New Jerusalem will be God's answer for man's longing to live in a perpetually peaceful stare.
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5/25/1997
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He's Coming - Now What!?
Revelation 22:6-21
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There are 43 additional messages in this series.