Last week we saw
the opening of the seventh seal which led us to a new set of seven
visions characterized by the blowing of seven trumpets by seven angels.
The first trumpet revealed the destruction of one third of the plant
kingdom, the second the pollution of one third of the seas and marine
life, the third one third of the world's fresh water and the fourth
revealed the pollution of the atmosphere with a loss of one third of the
light. Thus the first four visions had to do with the pollution of man's
environment. These can be seen as a warning sign for man to repent of
his ungodly ways and return to God. If man does not repent then the
three remaining plagues, which are far more terrifying, will harm man
Before we see the
fifth trumpet I would like to add something to last weeks talk. With the
blowing of the second trumpet something like a great mountain burning
with fire was cast into the sea. One of the explanations was that this
could be a meteorite. By coincidence the next day a 10 tonne meteor
streaked through the skies of Central Russia injuring a great many
people. Scientists at the US space agency Nasa estimated that the amount
of energy released from impact with the atmosphere was about 30 times
greater than the force of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima during
World War II. Events like this are not uncommon, they occur on average
every 100 years, but if we tie it in with the plagues of Revelation we
can ask: "was it just a freak event of nature or is it a warning of
things to come?
third trumpet we saw a great star fall from heaven called Wormwood. I
didn't know last week, but wormwood in Ukrainian is Chernobyl. I'm sure
you all remember the nuclear reactor that exploded at Chernobyl in the
Ukraine in 1986. It caused widespread pollution, deaths and many
to today; let's hear what the fifth trumpet has in store for man.
"And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star
fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the
bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a
smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and
the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came
out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power,
as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that
they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing,
neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in
their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill
them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment
was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those
days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to
die, and death shall flee from them. And the shapes of the locusts were
like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it
were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And
they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of
lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and
the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses
running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there
were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.
And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit,
whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath
his name Apollyon. One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes
look at what all this could be I have to say that up to now all the
interpretations given by Archimandrite Athanasius Mitilianos, on whose
lectures I have relied for all the interpretations we have seen, up to
now they all had a logical and acceptable understanding, but the
interpretations for this plague have really confused me. I have seen
what others have to say and this has confused me even more. It can be
given a realistic interpretation, an allegorical interpretation, a
spiritual interpretation, a historical interpretation and a
psychological interpretation. But whatever interpretation is given it
doesn't agree 100% with all the details of the vision. I think the
problem stems from trying to apply the vision to things of our own times
or things we have seen in history, without allowing for things of the
future still not seen by human eye. I think you will understand what I
am trying to say as we progress.
"And I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth:
and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit."
star falling from heaven is as we have seen before Satan, the fallen
angel. The Lord tells us in the Gospel of Luke: "I
beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." (Luke 10:18) To him
was given the key of the bottomless pit. Properly translated it says he
was given the key to the well of the abyss. It has the same meaning; it
is a well that is bottomless and refers to the residential quarters of
the demons. Satan is given the key to open this bottomless pit, in other
words he is given permission to unleash his evil and malicious
activities on earth. As you know Satan does not have any authority, he
does nothing without divine permission. If you remember the story of
Job, he enters into a dialogue with God that Job only praises God
because he was given wealth, health, prosperity and happiness, but if
these were taken from him then he would curse God. God replies this is
not so and gives Satan permission to put Job to the test. In one day
Satan had Job's oxen and asses stolen, the camels stolen, his servants
killed, the sheep burnt alive and worst of all his ten children killed
when a great wind brought the house down on top of them. If the devil
was to be let free to act he would literally turn the universe upside
down from his malicious power. Thankfully the angels do not allow him
and God does not give him permission. He cannot even enter the pigs
without permission as we read in the Gospels when a certain man of the
Gergesenes was possessed with a legion of demons and they pleaded with
the Lord not to send them back into the deep, but to allow them to enter
the nearby herd of swine. And God allowed it to punish the Gergesenes
because they were farming swine disregarding the Law of Moses which
prohibited the eating of swine meat. Thus God allows Satan and his
demons to cause harm because of the unrepentant hearts of people, but
nothing takes place without God's knowledge and permission.
So Satan is
given permission to unleash whatever destruction he can on the earth.
"And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose
a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and
the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit." What is
this smoke of the pit? Those who give it an allegorical interpretation
claim that the smoke represents iniquity, spiritual confusion, and
destruction of the unfaithful, but also the deceptive and destructive
designs of Satan. The darkening of the sun is interpreted as Satan
attempting to hide the truth from humankind. The same interpreters also
say that the locusts with tails like scorpions are the evil spirits.
They tie this in with what the Lord said to the Seventy Apostles when
they returned from the mission, they rejoiced saying: "Lord,
even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. And he said unto
them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto
you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of
the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you." (Luke 10:
17-19) Jesus was likening the evil spirits over whom His disciples had
exercised His power to serpents and scorpions.
Where it says that
they were ordered not to harm the grass of the earth, nor any green
thing, nor any tree, except those men who do not have the seal of God
upon their foreheads, one interpreter says that the grass, green things
and the trees represent all professed believers, those with the seal of
God on their foreheads and the rest of mankind will at the end of time
suffer intense demonic torture for a period of five months. Their
suffering will be like the stings of scorpions, but the demons will not
be allowed to kill them, only torture them and through this demonic
torture people will seek death and will not find it; they will long to
die, and death will flee from them. These allegorical interpretations
are all very well until they come to give an explanation of the
appearance of the locust.
"And the shapes of the locusts were like
unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were
crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had
hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.
And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the
sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running
Here they leave all
allegorical interpretations aside and take up a historical
interpretation and say that this is a description of the first attack of
the Ottoman Turks on the Byzantine Empire back in 1299. I don't want to
give you the details of how they come to this conclusion, but in short
they identify the description of the locusts with the military dress of
the Muslim armies. Others also claim that the locusts represent Islam
who as Satan's army will cause great destruction to the Christians at
the end of time.
as I have said before, the time span of the Book of revelation is from
the first coming of Christ until the second coming of Christ with
multilayered visions. John presents the future in a perspective of the
past and of the present, but we must understand that this fifth plague
comes after the pollution of the environment. In our times we are seeing
the beginnings of this environmental catastrophe, but the worst is still
to come. The interpretation is therefore to be found in the future and
not in the historical past. This we can also deduce from what John says:
"And in those days shall men seek death." What days? Those days refers
to the last days.
interpretation given by Archimandrite Athanasius Mitilianos is I think
much closer to the truth, but even this leaves gaps which cannot yet be
fully understood, although I will try to supplement what he says with
some of my own ideas. Fr. Athanasius says that the smoke from the pit is
all the evil consequences of a contemporary military operation where the
rising smoke covers even the sun and pollutes the surrounding
atmosphere. On the same note it could be describing the mushroom cloud
of the nuclear bomb. In the Holy Monastery of Dionysius on Mount Athos,
there is a fresco of this event painted almost four hundred years ago
and the artist has portrayed the smoke of this pit resembling very much
like the mushroom created by a nuclear bomb. In his time the artist
could not have known about the mushroom effect so is his artistic
portrayal just a coincidence or did he have a vision and painted what he
saw in the vision? Is then this plague warning us of the threat of
nuclear warfare? This is a very real threat and some would say even
unavoidable from our contemporary reality. The darkening of the sun and
air from this smoke well describes the effect of the nuclear winter that
follows a nuclear explosion on land.
"And there came out of the smoke
locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions
of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not
hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree;
but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads."
that came of the smoke were given power similar to the power scorpions
have. This power is to sting, but as we shall see these are not normal
locusts as our biological grasshoppers or insects. Normal locusts, known
to man, cause great harm to vegetation, but they do not attack humans.
Here though we have a reversal of the normal and we are told that they
will not harm the vegetation, but man instead. Thus from this we know
that what John saw was something that he could only describe as similar
in shape to a locust.
"And to them it was given that they should not
kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their
torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in
those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire
to die, and death shall flee from them."
locusts are not to kill people, but only torment them for a period of
time. The pain people will suffer will be like that of a scorpion's
sting. The locusts can be likened to our modern-day aeroplanes and
helicopters. Indeed there is a striking resemblance to the Russian Hind
helicopter. But if the weapons of these military machines are exploding
bombs how would the vegetation not be harmed as well? This is an
indication that the weapons employed by the airplane-locusts are
chemical. This is the sting of the earthly scorpion which suggests that
the effect of the chemical will cause neuro-paralysis. The chemical will
not affect plants, but only the people who do not have the seal of God
on their foreheads. The people falling under the influence of this
chemical weaponry of neuro-paralytic effect will be terribly tormented
and will want to do away with themselves in order to escape their
torments, but will not be able to do this, why? because they will be
paralysed. Death will flee from them only while the effect of the
chemical weaponry lasts, then they will die.
brings us to another question, how will God separate those with the sign
of the Cross on their foreheads from the ungodly? The easiest answer is
that God can do all things, but the Gospels give us certain clues that
the faithful will take to the mountains away from the big cities. Why
would they do this? If as we shall see in a later talk, the mark of the
antichrist that will be enforced on people's hands or foreheads will be
some sort of electronic microchip, a perfected computerized registration
system, containing all pertinent personal and financial information
regarding a person, a microchip that will replace the need for money,
passports, visas, tickets, credit cards and other personal documents, if
also this microchip is a tracking device, if it is also enforced so that
the government of the antichrist can have not only political control,
but also religious control over people, because this is the first
meaning of the mark, just like the faithful have the mark of God on
their foreheads, then those who refuse this mark will not only be unable
to survive in the cities because without this mark they will not be able
to buy or sell anything, but at the same time they will be persecuted
for their faith, something we have already seen will happen in the last
days. Thus they will have no choice but to take to the mountains for
their survival. This separation of the faithful from the ungodly could
very well take place before the destructions from nuclear and chemical
But even if
there is no separation, and the faithful die from these plagues, this is
no loss, because as faithful servants of God they will be in paradise
awaiting the resurrection of life, whilst the ungodly that die will be
in darkness awaiting the resurrection of death.
see if the description of the locusts describe planes or helicopters.
"And the shapes of the locusts were like unto
horses prepared unto battle."
we were to imagine a military aerodrome with the military planes drawn
up in rows, they are truly like the formation of horses prepared for
war. Prepared because the planes have not yet moved from their places
and are not flying, but their pilots have already taken their places.
"And on their heads were as it were crowns like
This could be
describing the cockpits of the planes which are transparent under which
the heads of the pilots in their helmets are visible.
"And their faces were as the faces of men."
know that under the protective suit or uniform of the military fighter
and behind the glass of his helmet there is a living person. But how
would this have appeared to John 2000 years ago? John saw the faces of
men inside very strange and unusual uniforms. He identified that the
faces were the faces of men but, under their helmets and uniform that
was the only human element he could identify.
"And they had hair as the hair of women."
could be the gas train let out by a supersonic aeroplane, creating the
impression of "womens hair". Other than this I haven't found a decent
explanation for something that would seem like women's hair.
"And their teeth were as the teeth of lions."
could be the bombs and rockets that are hung under the aircraft, and
which are like teeth. Not small teeth for chewing food, but big "teeth"
for attacks, like those of a lion.
"And they had breastplates, as it were
breastplates of iron."
describes the plating of the frames of the aircraft he saw as it were
breastplates, and their metallic composition as it were of iron. He says
like iron because he recognised that the metal was not iron, but a metal
alloy unknown to him at that time.
"And the sound of their wings was as the sound of
chariots of many horses running to battle."
similarity of planes with locusts is obvious they both have wings.
This would suggest that what John saw was planes and not helicopters,
but overall a helicopter looks far more like a locust than does a plane.
How could John describe the sound of many supersonic aircraft or
helicopters? The closest battle sound he knew was the sound of chariots
of many horses running to battle.
"And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there
were stings in their tails."
aeroplanes and helicopters have tails and the tails of some helicopters
turn up similar to the scorpion's tail. But what are the stings in their
tails. Supersonic planes have a flame from their tail which could be
described as stings, but here the description in support of the
"And they had a king over them, which is the angel
of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but
in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon."
do not have kings or queens like the common bee so this is another
indication that we are not dealing with the natural locusts. Abaddon in
Hebrew means destruction and Apollyon in Greek means the destroyer which
is the name of the angel of the bottomless pit meaning the devil. He is
the king over the destructing forces because he will be the instigator
of this terrible chemical warfare as he is of all wars.
"One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes
The two more woes,
the sixth and seventh trumpets are much longer than the first and we
will not have time to see both today, but let's see the second woe.
"And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice
from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, Saying to
the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are
bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed,
which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for
to slay the third part of men. And the number of the army of the
horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of
them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on
them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and
the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their
mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third
part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone,
which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and
in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads,
and with them they do hurt. And the rest of the men which were not
killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands,
that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and
brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor
walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries,
nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts."
"And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice
from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God"
altar is the same that we saw with the offering of incense; it is the
heavenly altar before God and from this altar a voice was heard which is
the voice of God. The voice instructs the sixth angel to loose the four
angels that are bound to the river Euphrates. These angels are demons
who have been bound, but now through divine intervention are to be
loosed to provoke a fierce war that will eliminate one third of the
world's population. Up to now we were not given areas of the world that
would be infected from the plagues, but here we have a specific place
the river Euphrates. The Euphrates river springs from the Ararat
Mountains in Armenia, through Turkey, Syria and Iraq, then shares a
common Delta with the Tigris River and ends up in the Persian Gulf. The
Euphrates was one of the four great rivers of Paradise mentioned in the
Book of Genesis. The others being the Phison, Gihon and the Tigris. Thus
Historically Paradise was somewhere in this area of Mesopotamia. I'm
sure you all understand that Paradise was somewhere here on earth, a
real garden and not some noetic place. However when the grace of God was
lifted it ceased to be Paradise and today, from a scenic point of view,
it is a rather depressing area. Paradise was truly taken away, but with
the coming of Christ, through his death and Resurrection, paradise was
re-created, not as a place on earth, but as a noetic place for the
righteous who await the resurrection.
of the Euphrates River here could be noetic or symbolic just as Babylon
is mentioned in Revelation, but ceased to exist long before John wrote
Revelation and is identified as meaning Rome. The Euphrates though does
exist and there is no reason for us not to take it to literally mean the
Euphrates and the areas of Turkey, Syria, the area of Mesopotamia being
the modern day Iraq not excluding the neighbouring state Persia being
the modern day Iran. Many prophecies of the saints point to the last war
beginning with the Arab states and involving China and Russia.
"And the four angels were loosed, which were
prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay
the third part of men."
have here an expression of time in an ascending scale. This wants to
show that the decision of God is unalterable and inevitable, that which
God has said will definitely take place. When is states the hour, the
day, the month and year, it shows that everything is defined and
programmed and whatever is prophesied will be carried out in its full
detail. From this verse we are also told that one third of the earth's
population will be killed and shows how murderous this battle ground
will be. Today's population is around seven billion so by today's
figures one third is about 2.3billion. This is a staggering figure if we
take into account that the casualties of World War 2 were approximately
60million, here though we will have a war that will claim 38 times more
lives than World War 2. This is a overwhelming number, but by today's
standards it is very easy for these people to be killed in a matter of
minutes or hours.
"And the number of the army of the horsemen were
two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them."
thousand thousand, in other words two hundred million. John comes to
give us details of this spectacular battle of his vision. He talks about
soldiers on horses because the Greek mentions horsemen, but as we will
see in the continuation of this description, it does not mean real
horses, but has to do with horrific machines of war, armoured war
machines or the formidable tank. The horses of old have been replaced
with armoured vehicles, but in the Greek language, even though horses
are not used, the same titles for the officers of cavalry have been
retained and refer to horse riders of tanks. Thus by using the Greek
language which is the original language of Revelation we can gain much
insight and solve many puzzling points as this one which in English
gives the impression of an army of horsemen, but in Greek refers to an
army of tanks. This we will also see when we come to the number 666 the
number of the name of the antichrist which will be counted using the
Greek alphabet and not the Latin or English which simply gives a
translated number with no means to calculate a name.
of the army was an incredible two hundred million. We might think that
this is some mistake which is something that has happened with numbers
when early biblical scribes made written copies, or could this be a
figurative and allegorical number, but John is quick to add:
"I heard the number of them" on the one
hand to show us that he didn't count them, how could he, but more to
assure us that this was the actual number no matter how inconceivable it
may have sounded during his time.
Today this number is still staggering but not so inconceivable. China
with a population of 1.35 billion could quite easily put together an
army of 200 million so could India with a population of 1.21 billion.
But what if this army is a pan-Islamic army, a gathering of all the Arab
and Muslim countries? Again this number could easily be reached.
"And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them
that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and
brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and
out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone."
breastplates of fire, of jacinth and brimstone; these refer to the
colour of their armour or uniform: fire for red, jacinth which in Greek
is Hyacinth the bluish flower, but in ancient times often referred to
the sapphire stone, thus jacinth for blue and brimstone meaning sulphur
for yellow. These three colours suggest that it was not one nation, but
at least three camps of armies distinguished by the colours of their
"And the heads of the horses were as the heads of
This is probably
symbolic of their power.
"And out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and
In a sense these
three elements relate to the three colours; the fire corresponds to red,
the smoke to blue and the brimstone to yellow.
"By these three was the third part of men killed,
by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of
their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for
their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they
So by the
fire, the smoke and brimstone which came out of the mouths of these
strange horses a third of mankind will be killed. What kind of
destructive weapons are these? Fire suggests bombs, smoke could be
dangerous gases and brimstone, in other words sulphur, could relate to
chemical warfare. These horses had tails like serpents and heads and
with these they do harm. These have to do with armoured vehicles like
tanks which can strike from the front and from the back.
"And the rest of the men which were not killed by
these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they
should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and
stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither
repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their
fornication, nor of their thefts."
imagine that with such devastating plagues, those who managed to survive
would look to God for their salvation, that they would see in these
destructions the message to repent, but John tells us that people will
continue to live without God. They will continue to worship devils and
idols. These do not necessarily mean statues of idols like they had in
ancient times. Idols take on many forms: named products for example are
a form of idol worship. What girl doesn't want to own a brand name
handbag or shoes? Our modern world worships brand names and pays
ridiculous sums of money to obtain something that would cost next to
nothing if it didn't have a particular name. Singers and actors are
followed and worshiped like gods, people call them their idols and
indeed they take the place of the gold, silver and brass idols of old.
People put their trust in so many things, but not in God and the Gospel.
In fact if we compare our times with ancient times we have surpassed
them in ungodliness because people deny Christ the Saviour and claim
they are atheist, something which never existed in previous times. What
of the other things? John tell us that "neither
did they repent of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their
fornication, nor of their thefts." These are representative of
the overall commandments.
history has never seen such low regard for human life as today even
though we hypocritically raise our voices about human rights, anarchy,
murders by professional hitmen, the torturing of people worldwide,
murderous wars, indifference for the life of people in the pollution of
the environment, preservatives in foods, pharmaceuticals etc, All these
have one thing in common money which is the greatest idol of all.
this is a constituent of idolatry and a substitute for faith. Today
people are ready to believe every stupidity and nonsense except the
truth about God and the Gospel. They believe in horoscopes and card
readings, and rely on these for their future, if they have a problem
they go to mediums, psychologists and psychiatrists, they turn to yoga
and eastern methods of contemplation to help them relax, scented
candles, crystals and many other things. These are all the result of the
world so heavily influenced by the demonic powers because the world has
under this general title there is a wide range of sexual immorality
that would make an honourable person turn red with embarrassment. We
have become a society of Sodom and Gomorra and all the things we are
told in the Bible that are sinful and unnatural, today we say they are
all perfectly natural and if you don't do them you are the one who is
unnatural. Young adults are embarrassed to say they are still virgins
and that they want to save themselves until they are married. This in
our days is considered unnatural, the young are taught to have as many
partners as they can before settling down to married life.
thefts designate the absence of love and respect for our fellow man. It
shows selfishness and self-love. Today everyone steals even the workers
of so called Christian churches posing themselves as preachers and
pastors to steal people's faith and money. Powerful countries extract
the wealth of other nations for their own needs without a second thought
that they are taking from a country where the people are starving and
living in great poverty.
of the sixth trumpet end here, but we do not immediately have the
blowing of the seventh and last trumpet. Between the two there are two
interludes as we have seen before. They come and give some rest to the
reader to help him psychologically recover from the horrific sequence of
events and at the same time to help the reader prepare for the seventh
trumpet which consists of a focal point, the nucleus of the entire book
because during the seventh plague we have the appearance of the
antichrist. So before we enter into the seventh plague we need to catch
our breath from the terrors of the fifth and sixth plagues and these two
interludes come to give as a little lift and hope. The first of these
interludes refer to John and the second refers to the faithful with the
appearance of the two prophets. We also have a change of scenery. Up to
now John has seen these visions in heaven, and heaven still remains the
source of his visions, but now John is back on earth. The first
interlude is the complete chapter 10, but instead of reading all of it
first as I normally do, we will see it in verses because we will not
have time to repeat the verses.
"And I saw another mighty angel come down from
heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his
face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire."
angel is not the seventh angel, but another angel who appears almost
godly. He comes down from heaven, he is clothed with a cloud, he has the
reef of the rainbow upon his head and he is so bright in appearance that
John says his face is as the sun and his feet as pillars of fire. The
cloud is the presence of divine protection. In the Book of Exodus,
(13:21) we read that when the Israelites where in the wilderness, the
Lord went before the Children of Israel by day in a pillar of a cloud,
to lead them the way to the promised land, the presence of the Lord was
in the cloud. We also read that the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I am come
unto thee in a pillar of cloud, that the people may hear when I speak
with thee, and again when Moses entered into the tabernacle, the pillar
of the cloud descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and
talked with Moses.
is the symbol of peace and reconciliation. After the great flood of
Noah, God promised that he would never again destroy the earth with
water and as a sign of this promise he set the rainbow in the clouds
that when we see this rainbow we will remember this covenant. The angel
with the rainbow upon his head has a similar message; after the
devastating destructions, it comes to promise that God will never again
allow such terrible things to befall upon man. It comes and brings hope
not to lose heart; from now on there will be no more destructions and
there awaits the faithful only the kingdom of God.
"And he had in his hand a little book open: and he
set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth."
This gives us an
enormous image of the mighty angel; if his right foot is upon the sea
and his left upon the earth then how tall must he have appeared to John.
But the verse wants to show that the angel rules over the land and the
sea. And in his hand is a little book. This is not the same book that we
saw with the opening of the seven seals. This is a much smaller book and
it is opened. In other words it contains the remaining mysteries that
will be revealed in the Book of Revelation; the things that will take
place from that moment on until the end.
"And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion
roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices."
What are these
voices of the seven thunders? The number seven as we have seen before
shows fullness and with the word thunder in scripture we always
understand it to be the voice of God. Thus here we have the voice of God
himself. In the Gospel of St. John, Christ says to the Father:
"Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice
from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it
again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it
thundered: others said, An angel spake to him." (John 12: 28-29)
This was the voice of the heavenly Father and likewise here the seven
thunders are the voice of God.
"And when the seven thunders had uttered their
voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying
unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and
write them not."
appears to be writing the very moment he is watching this vision even
though according to tradition he was dictating his revelation to his
deacon Prochorus. However this shows his eagerness to write about
everything revealed to him. But as he was about to write another voice
from heaven told him to not write the things he heard from the seven
thunders. This knowledge is meant to be only for the ears of John.
Possibly this has to do with what awaits the ungodly, which could
terrify even the faithful. There are some things that it is better for
people not to know. Man cannot handle this knowledge. For example, God
does not reveal to us the time of our death, if he did we would live a
life of martyrdom waiting for the hour to come. For the same reason God
has hidden the date of his Second Coming and much more. John heard the
name of the Antichrist, but he did not reveal it: instead he wrote only
the number of his name in a cryptographic form. Thus what John heard was
for his ears only, but when the time comes then this revelation will
take place. This
applies to much of the Book of Revelation. What we have understood up to
now means that it was time for us to understand, but those things that
we cannot explain means that the time has not come for us to understand
these points and no matter how much guessing and decoding we do we will
probably misunderstand. A hundred years ago people could not have
understood about nuclear bombs, chemical warfare, supersonic planes and
helicopters so they gave other explanations spiritual and allegorical
for the disasters prophesied.
"And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and
upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, And sware by him that
liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that
therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the
sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no
longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall
begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath
declared to his servants the prophets."
need much interpretation. The angel that stood on the sea and earth
swore by the creator of all things, that is God, that there is no more
time. The days come for the seventh angel to sound his trumpet and when
he does the mystery of God which was prophesied by the prophets of old
will be revealed. This is the appearance of the antichrist and the
Second Coming of Christ.
"And the voice which I heard from heaven spake
unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in
the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth."
So John is
instructed to take the little book which is opened, meaning that the
mysteries it contained will be revealed to him.
"And I went unto the angel, and said unto him,
Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up;
and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet
not literally mean that John will eat the book. This is an expression
and even today we use this expression in our Modern Greek language. We
commonly say I ate that book, in other words I read it, I devoured it.
It is a creative image showing that the knowledge, the understanding and
awareness of all these things that will happen are given to John. Here
is also indicated the fact that St. John has received the prophetic gift
just as the Old Testament prophets received it. For example, the holy
Prophet Ezekiel, to whom it was likewise commanded to eat a scroll of a
book before he was sent by the Lord to preach to the house of Israel
(Ezekiel 2.8-10, 3.1-4).
sweetness means that the knowledge of the mystery of God and the
completion of this mystery and everything coming to an end will give him
a certain sweetness glory be to God the plagues are finally over. This
knowledge will give him great joy, but he will also have a certain grief
and this is what will make his belly bitter. The compassionate heart of
the apostle will feel the whole bitterness of the grief which awaits
sinful mankind with all the loss of life and the tribulations of the
faithful. Yes he knows they will finish, but he grieves until these
events are over. As a man he co-suffers with the faithful, but also with
the ungodly because this is a quality of the true Christian to rejoice
with those rejoicing and weep with those weeping.
"And I took the little book out of the angel's
hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon
as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter."
He was told about
this in advance and sure enough it happened as it was foretold.
"And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again
before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings."
In conclusion, St. John received the command to prophesy.
This then is
the end of the first interlude concerning John and next week we will see
the second interlude concerning the faithful and the two prophets and
hopefully the Seventh trumpet with the appearance of the antichrist.