When the people of Israel were about to possess the land of Canaan, Yahveh warned Moses that in a short time the people would spurn Him and break His covenant, turn to other gods and serve them as was previously mentioned. Moses was commanded to write and teach an instructional song to the people of Israel. The song would serve as Yahveh’s reminder and witness against the people of Israel for their disobedience when many disasters and calamities would come upon them. Yahveh said:
Then it shall come about, when many evils and troubles have come upon them, that this song will testify before them as a witness (for it shall not be forgotten from the lips of their descendants); for I know their intent which they are developing today, before I have brought them into the land which I swore.” So Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it to the sons of Israel. (Deut. 31:21, 22)
In the era of the New Testament, John the Baptist and Yahshua the Messiah both described many people of their generation as a “brood of vipers” (Lk. 3:7) and a “wicked and adulterous generation” (Lk. 11:29, Mt. 12:39). Peter named it “a perverse generation” (Acts 2:40). Paul called it similarly, “a crooked and a perverse generation” (Phil. 2:15).
Yahshua and His disciples’ ministry record many accounts of exorcism and the healing of many oppressed and possessed by demons. On one occasion a man of Gadara, who was possessed with numerous demons, was so extremely violent and had tremendous physical strength, enough to tear apart chains and shackles. There was no one strong enough to subdue him but Yahshua.
Harmonizing the three Gospels in which the account of the demoniac is recorded, the demon-possessed man fearfully asked Yahshua, “What business do we have with each other, Yahshua, Son of the Most High God? Have You come here to torment us before the time? I beg You, do not torment me!” (Mt. 8:29; Lk 8:28) The demons also begged Yahshua not to, “send them out of the country” or region (Mark 5:10). They apparently desired to stay in the land of Judah where many “vessels” were open to enter. It appears their beseeching manifests their state of being would be changed for the worse if they did not have someone to possess through whom they could find some sort of relief and expression. Yahshua stated:
“Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it.” (Mt. 12:43)
It is also recorded that these demons in the demoniac of Gadara were also imploring Yahshua “not to command them to go away into the abyss” (Lk. 8:31). The abyss was synonymous with the “bottomless pit” where certain pernicious demonic beings were confined in a prison-like abode.
There are two Scripture verses that it would be helpful in gaining a better understanding on this subject:
“And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (Jude 1:6)
“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell (tartarosas) and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment” (II Pet. 2:4)
Both Biblical writers mentioned particular malevolent spirit beings as held captive and imprisoned for certain crimes committed. It appears at the time of these authors’ writings the angels who sinned were not necessarily suffering the fullness of Yahveh’s punishment due them, but like criminals, were in a holding cell in pits of darkness for or toward a particular purpose. This is evident from the literal translation of Peter’s verse, “being reserved for judgment.” Jude explained they were being kept in bondage “for the judgment of the Great Day.” What was this Great Day? A strong inference can be made that the Day was the “Great Day of the Lamb’s wrath” to be poured out upon His disobedient people of Judah (Rev. 6:16, 17). In other words, Peter’s indication was that these particular demons were set aside to be used later by Yahveh as an instrument to inflict havoc upon the cursed land of Judea during the wars against the Jews by the Romans.
During the days of the prophet Joel, a devastating locust invasion destroyed much of Judah’s agriculture. Joel described the locust as “gnawing,” “swarming,” “creeping” and “stripping” the land bare (Joel 1:4). He typified them as an “invading nation,” “whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and having fangs as a lioness” (Joel 1:6). They ruined the land by stripping everything growing (Joel 1:7-12). The noise of their destruction sounded as a “consuming fire” on the land (Joel 1:19, 20; 2:3). Joel wrote:
What the gnawing locust has left, the swarming locust has eaten;
And what the swarming locust has left, the creeping locust has eaten;
And what the creeping locust has left, the stripping locust has eaten.
Awake, drunkards, and weep;
And wail, all you wine drinkers,
On account of the sweet wine
That is cut off from your mouth.
For a nation has invaded my land,
Mighty and without number;
Its teeth are the teeth of a lion,
And it has the fangs of a lioness.
It has made my vine a waste
And my fig tree splinters.
It has stripped them bare and cast them away;
Their branches have become white.
Wail like a virgin girded with sackcloth
For the bridegroom of her youth.
The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off
From the house of Yahveh.
The priests mourn,
The ministers of Yahveh.
The field is ruined,
The land mourns;
For the grain is ruined,
The new wine dries up,
Fresh oil wastes away.
Be ashamed, O farmers,
Wail, O vinedressers,
For the wheat and the barley;
Because the harvest of the field is destroyed. (Joel 1:4-11)
From Joel’s description in the above verses, his imagery of the locust plague is as if the locust were “an army of demons” whose primary objective is to destroy man’s peace, harmony and to introduce as much anguish, grief, misfortune, privation, anxiety and confusion as possible into people’s lives and ultimately death. Though this invasion of locust came to devastate the land, the destruction was nevertheless sent by Yahveh for Israel’s sin. The plague was sent to turn their hearts back to their God (Joel 2:12, 13). Whenever Yahveh executed His judgment upon any nation, the event was referred to as “a time of visitation” and also as “the Day of Yahveh.” (Jer. 50:27; Isa. 13:6)
Alas for the day!
For the day of Yahveh is near,
And it will come as destruction from El Shaddai (Almighty). (Joel 1:15)
The prophet Amos was given a vision in which he had seen Yahveh exerting His power in “forming” a locust swarm for the purpose of framing the punishment due the sinners of Israel. However, Amos intercedes with Yahveh for his people, and Yahveh had compassion, relented and did not send the judgment.
Thus the Lord Yahveh showed me, and behold, He was forming a locust-swarm at the beginning of the coming up of the spring crop began to sprout. And behold, the spring crop was after the king’s mowing. And it came about, when it had finished eating the vegetation of the land, that I said,
“Lord Yahveh, please pardon!
How can Jacob stand,
For he is small?”
Yahveh changed His mind about this.
“It shall not be,” said Yahveh. (Amos 7:1-3)
In prophecy, locust was used as a symbol of one of Yahveh’s weapons in His large arsenal to inflict judgment upon His unrepentant people, as Yahveh had forewarned them:
I will make the land desolate so that your enemies who settle in it will be appalled over it. (Lev. 26:32)
However, Yahveh’s judgments are primarily to have a redeeming effect. They were to cause men to reflect on their sinful ways as to repent and turn back to their God
Following is an actual account of a locust invasion that took place in Israel in 1866:
An eyewitness of a plague of locusts, which visited Palestine in 1866, says: “From early morning till near sunset the locusts passed over the city in countless hosts, as though all the swarms in the world were let loose, and the whirl of their wings was as the sound of chariots. At times they appeared in the air like some great snowdrift, obscuring the sun, and casting a shadow upon the earth. Men stood in the streets and looked up, and their faces gathered blackness. At intervals those which were tired or hungry descended on the little gardens in the city, and in an incredibly short time all that was green disappeared. They ran up the walls, they sought out every blade of grass or weed growing between the stones, and after eating to satiety, they gathered in their ranks along the ground, or on the tops of houses. It is no marvel that as Pharaoh looked at them he called them ‘this death’ (Ex. 10:17)… One locust has been found near Bethlehem measuring more than five inches in length. It is covered with a hard shell, and has a tail like a scorpion.” Journal of Sacred Literature for 1866, p. 89. Compare the same Journal for 1865, pp. 235-237. (Hermeneutics, pg. 430)
The Fifth Trumpet Blast
Then the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him. He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit. Then out of the smoke came locusts into the earth, and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And they were not permitted to kill them, but to torment for five months; and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death flees from them.
The likenesses of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle; and on their heads appeared to be crowns like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They had hair like the hair of women, and their teeth were like the teeth of lions. They had breastplates like breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to battle. They have tails like scorpions, and stings; and in their tails is their power to hurt men for five months. They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon (destruction), and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon (destroyer).
The first woe is past; behold, two woes are still coming after these things. (Rev. 9:1-12)
Revelation 9:20, 21 describes some of society’s sins of that first generation as involved in “the worship of demons,” “idolatry,” “murder,” “sorceries,” “immorality,” and “thievery.” A society which morally degenerates and in which violence is a pervading factor, is a society or nation that invites upon itself the judgment and curse of Yahveh (Gen. 6:11-13; Lev. 18:24-30).
In his visions John was allowed to peer into another dimension. He was shown the demonic realm and their evil activity against those in Judea and Jerusalem. John saw a “star from heaven which had fallen to the earth.” The star corresponds to what Yahshua told His disciples when they returned with joy after being sent out to preach the gospel, they said to their Master:
“Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” (Lk. 10:17b)
Then Yahshua said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning” (Lk. 10:38). The “star” John saw was representative of Satan. A key was “given” to Satan to unlock the doors to the bottomless pit, the abyss, to release demonic beings from their place of confinement, who were allowed to swarm out upon a specific place on earth – the land of Judea. Permission from heaven was given to Abaddon the Destroyer and the demonic locust-like beings to afflict all those who did not have the seal of Yahveh’s protection upon their foreheads (Rev. 9:4).
Just as Yahshua granted permission for the demons to possess the unclean pigs, so demons were granted permission to torment those who were spiritually unclean. The demonic power working in the sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:2) increased upon the cursed land of Judea, and like locusts that bring devastation, demons were permitted to come forth in those days of Yahveh’s vengeance. Are there any voices of the past that would describe the spiritual state of affairs in Judea in that generation? The historian Josephus said: (emphasis added)
It is therefore impossible to go distinctly over every instance of these men’s iniquity. I shall therefore speak my mind here at once briefly; that neither did any other city ever suffer such miseries; nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this was from the beginning of the world. Finally, they brought the Hebrew nation into contempt, that they might themselves appear comparatively less impious with regard to strangers. They confessed what was true, that they were the slaves, the scum, and the spurious and abortive offspring of our nation. While they overthrew the city themselves; and forced the Romans, whether they would or no, to gain a melancholy reputation by acting gloriously against them: and did almost draw that fire upon the temple, which they seemed to think came too slowly. And indeed, when they saw that temple burning, from the upper city, they were neither troubled at it, nor did they shed any tears on that account. While yet these passions were discovered among the Romans themselves. Which circumstances we shall speak of hereafter, in their proper place, when we come to treat of such matters. (Josephus, Wars, Book 5, Ch. 10, Sec 5)
And here I cannot but speak my mind, and what the concern I am under dictates to me: and it is this. I suppose that had the Romans made any longer delay in coming against these villains, that the city would either have been swallowed up by the ground opening upon them, or been overflowed by water; or else been destroyed by such thunder, as the country of Sodom perished by. For it had brought forth a generation of men much more atheistical than were those that suffered such punishments. For by their madness it was that all the people came to be destroyed. (Josephus, Wars, Book 5, Ch. 13, Sec 6)
Surely Josephus’ description of the “madness” of his people was evidence of a people demon possessed.
John describes in his vision the monstrous appearance of the “locusts” (demons) that were released out of the abyss. His description was similar to the real locust, which were described by the prophet Joel. Observe the descriptive similarities of demons and locusts:
Rev. 9:7 – The appearance of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle… (demons)
Joel 2:4 – Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; and like war horses, so they run. (locusts)
Rev. 9:8 – They had hair like the hair of women, and their teeth were like the teeth of lions (demons)
Joel 1:6 – A nation has invaded my land… its teeth are the teeth of a lion, and it has the fangs of a lioness… (locusts)
Rev. 9:9 – They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to battle (demons)
Joel 2:5 – With a noise as of chariots they leap on the tops of mountains, like the crackling of a flame of fire consuming the stubble, like a mighty people arranged for battle. (locusts)
Rev. 9:4 – They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. (demons)
Joel 2:3 –
A fire consumes before them
And behind them a flame burns.
The land is like the garden of Eden before them
But a desolate wilderness behind them,
And nothing at all escapes them. (locusts)
Regarding understanding Scripture, Doedes comments on the difference between explaining and interpreting:
To explain, properly signifies the unfolding of what is contained in the words, and to interpret, the making clear of what is not clear by casting light on that which is obscure. (Deodes, Manual of Hermeneutics, p.4)
Guy Duty, in his book, “If Ye Continue” stated in his Eight Rules of Interpretation regarding the Rule of Logic:
It is one of the most firmly established principles of law in England and in America that “a law means exactly what it says, and is to be interpreted and enforced exactly as it reads.” This is just as good a principle for interpreting the Bible as for interpreting law.
In interpreting much of Revelation the Rule of Logic cannot be solely applied. As examples: A Man with seven stars in His Hand with a sharp two-edged sword coming out of His Mouth (Rev. 1:16), the Lamb with seven horns and seven eyes (Rev. 5:6), an angel clothed with a cloud and rainbow on his head (Rev. 10:1), a beast with ten horns and seven heads with ten diadems on his heads (Rev. 13:1). When the “plain sense” would make common sense we are not to seek any other sense. However, when the “plain sense” makes no logical sense, we are to seek another sense, meaning or interpretation. That is, “making clear of what is not clear by casting light on that which is obscure.” This leads us to seek another rule for interpreting Scripture to explain its meaning.
Concerning the rule of inference:
In the Law of Evidence, an inference is a fact reasonably implied from another fact. It is a logical consequence. It is a process of reasoning. It derives a conclusion from a given fact or premise. It is the deduction of one proposition from another proposition. It is a conclusion drawn from evidence. (Eight Rules of Interpreting Scripture)
Furthermore, Guy Duty, quoting Strong’s Systematic Theology wrote:
A proposition of fact is proved when its truth is established by competent and satisfactory evidence. By competent evidence is meant such evidence as the nature of the thing to be proved admits. By satisfactory evidence is meant that amount of proof which ordinarily satisfies an unprejudiced mind beyond reasonable doubt…
The Book of Revelation is a book written in figurative language, and written for the Jew first; its words, idioms, allegories, ideas, etc. were written by the mid-eastern mind and not the western mind. Therefore, it is the goal of the interpreter and reader to discover the meaning of the writer as he intended that meaning to be communicated and understood by his original audience.
Much of the New Testament can only be understood by knowing the Old Testament comprehensively. As an example, Belshazzar could not read the “handwriting on the wall.” His queen suggested he call on Daniel for help. She said:
“O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts alarm you or your brightness be changed. There is a man in your kingdom in whom is a spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of your father, illumination, insight and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him. And King Nebuchadnezzar, your father, your father the king, appointed him chief of the magicians, conjurers, Chaldeans and diviners. This was because an extraordinary spirit, knowledge and insight, interpretation of dreams, explanation of enigmas and solving of difficult problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Let Daniel now be summoned and he will declare the interpretation.” (Dan. 5:10b-12)
Daniel is an example of an Old Testament prophet who interpreted dreams, visions and enigmas, and who also had dreams and visions. Gabriel, an angelic messenger, gave Daniel understanding of his visions. On one crucial occasion, after requesting help from heaven, Yahveh gave Daniel insight into understanding the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar so that his life and the lives of his friends and others would be spared. Thus, we have the Book of Daniel.
The same is true for Zechariah the prophet and the visions given to him. Prophets like Daniel, Zechariah, Ezekiel, etc. lay the foundation for understanding much of the prophetic literature, such as the Book of Revelation. The Old Testament writers set the guidelines and boundaries in interpreting and understanding the prophetic nature of Scripture. Therefore, the Rule of Inference would be appropriate and necessary to arrive at a reasonable conclusion and understanding in obscure and mysterious areas of Scripture.
Scriptural evidence, based on inference, supports the idea that John saw a demonic horde swarming over the Land of Judea as locust would swarm over a land on a spring day bringing devastation. However, this demonic horde did not work independently, but through vessels “empty, swept and put in order” (Matt. 12:45). Consider the following summary:
The leader of the horde of demons is Satan himself:
They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon (destruction), and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon (destroyer). (Rev. 9:11)
Yahveh, in His wisdom and sovereignty, justly uses the enemy for His corrective, judicial and redemptive purposes. Examples are; the immoral man living in sin (I Cor. 5:4,5), Job (Book of Job), and King Saul (I Sam. 16:14).
Satan was the “star” that had fallen – and like “lightning” that fell:
Then the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him. (Rev. 9:1)
The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” (Lk. 10:17)
They do not eat any green vegetation:
They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree (Rev. 9:4a)
Much of their description and their destructive activity are similar to the locust destruction in the book of Joel. (see above demonstration)
The dark and evil spiritual condition of the sinful people of Judah was historically verified by the historian Josephus. (see above reference)
John had spoken of Jerusalem as “fallen Babylon,” the “great city,” “where the Lord was crucified”:
And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “Fall! Fall! Babylon the Great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird.” (Rev. 18:2)
The woman whom you saw is the great city, which has a kingdom over the kings of the earth.” (Rev. 17:18)
And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. (Rev. 11:8)
Our Lord Yahshua Messiah predicted the moral and spiritual decline of the first century generation:
“Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.” (Matt. 12:43-45)
Yahshua gave the above teaching to illustrate and predict what would become of the spiritual state of the people of His generation. The Judeans were like the “man” with the unclean spirit cast out. Salvation and light came shining upon those who sat in darkness and the shadow of death. This revival came through the preaching of John the Baptist, Yahshua and His disciples, then Sha’ul and his missionary companions and many other disciples. But in time, many hardened their hearts, and became disobedient and obstinate (Rom. 10:1). Then Yahveh gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes to see not and ears to hear not (Rom. 11:8). Less than 40 years after Yahshua’s death, Judea became much worse in wickedness, as if seven more demons entered the man. In time their Temple, capital and nation fell into the hands of the Romans and hundreds of thousands of the people to destruction.
Listen to Josephus, a voice of the past, who described some of the Jewish zealots’ gross sins and who were a greater terror to their own people than the Romans themselves:
…during this time did the mischievous contrivances and courage [of John] corrupt the body of the Galileans; for these Galileans had advanced this John, and made him very potent, who made them suitable requital from the authority he had obtained by their means; for he permitted them to do all things that any of them desired to do, while their inclination to plunder was insatiable, as was their zeal in searching the houses of the rich; and for the murdering of the men, and abusing of the women, it was sport to them. They also devoured what spoils they had taken, together with their blood, and indulged themselves in feminine wantonness, without any disturbance, till they were satiated therewith; while they decked their hair, and put on women’s garments, and were besmeared over with ointments; and that they might appear very comely, they had paints under their eyes, and imitated not only the ornaments, but also the lusts of women, and were guilty of such intolerable uncleanness, that they invented unlawful pleasures of that sort. And thus did they roll themselves up and down the city, as in a brothel-house, and defiled it entirely with their impure actions; nay, while their faces looked like the faces of women, they killed with their right hands; and when their gait was effeminate, they presently attacked men, and became warriors, and drew their swords from under their finely dyed cloaks, and ran every body through whom they alighted upon. (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 4, Chap 9, Sec 10)
Truly, Yahshua’s prediction of that generation’s state of spiritual depravity was fulfilled in that generation. The Apostle Sha’ul wrote words that would apply to any generation:
Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved… Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. (I Cor. 10:6, 11, 12)
These words apply to any believer or any nation.