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Critique of Irvin Baxter's Revelation Commentary, Part 5
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We continue this discussion of the trumpets of the book of Revelation with the fifth trumpet of Rev. 9:1-12 here in Part 5 of this paper.
REVELATION CHAPTER 9 "Then the fifth angel sounded [his trumpet], and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth [This fallen "star" is an evil angel (cf. Rev. 12:4, 7-9; 8:10, 11; and 1:20).]; and the key of the bottomless pit [[As the margin of the NASB points out, the Greek literally has "the key of the shaft of the abyss." The NIV has "the key to the shaft of the Abyss." The English word "abyss" comes from the Greek "abussos," which was also used in Luke 8:31; Rom. 10:7; Rev. 9:2, 11; 11:7; 17:8; and 20:1, 3.]] was given to him. [[With this key the "star" could now open the shaft of the abyss. The fact that the key, which ultimately came from God, was given to this fallen star shows that God is in control, including the timing. God often uses evil beings in His end-time judgment of the world. We'll discuss this point further when we discuss His use of four evil angels under the sixth trumpet (Rev. 9:14, 15).]] (2) He opened the bottomless pit ["the shaft of the abyss"], and smoke went up out of the pit [shaft], like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit [shaft]. [[The fact that John saw smoke come out of the shaft of the abyss that darkened the sun and the air doesn't necessarily mean that the sun and air will be darkened when the fifth trumpet sounds in the last days. These words regarding the sun and air being darkened by smoke demonstrate, however, that it's Biblical to think of the sun being darkened by smoke that blocks out the light coming from the sun to the earth. The sun itself isn't actually darkened.
This confirms that it's reasonable to say that the darkening of the sun and moon at the time the Lord Jesus returns in the middle of Daniel's 70th week (e.g., Joel 2:31; Matt. 24:29, 30; Mark 13:24-26; and Rev. 6:12) will be caused by the smoke and dust generated during the very intense warfare of the sixth trumpet, which is the equivalent of the short great tribulation (e.g., Joel 2:30; Matt. 24:21, 22; Mark 13:19, 20; Rev. 6:12 [the great shaking of Rev. 6:12 probably includes this intense warfare]; and Rev. 9:13-21 [note the smoke in 9:17, 18]). We will discuss these things under Rev. 9:13-21 (these verses discuss the very intense warfare of the sixth trumpet).]] (3) Then out of the smoke [which came up out of the shaft of the abyss] came locusts upon the earth [[A large number of locusts came into Egypt under the eighth plague (Ex. 10:1-20). Joel 1:1-20 (cf. Joel 2:1-27) are another important cross-reference for the locust attack of Rev. 9:1-11; these verses in Joel also are an important cross-reference for Rev. 9:13-21. Cross-references to Joel will demonstrate this fact as we continue. Exodus 10:1-20 and Joel 1:1-20 (cf. Joel 2:1-27) speak of an invasion by a large numbers of literal locusts, but it's clear (based on the description of the locusts) that the locusts of Rev. 9:1-11 aren't literal locusts. In agreement with many, I consider them to be demonic locusts. They come up from the abyss, from the underworld. John saw these demonic locusts while receiving this revelation, but it's quite possible that these locusts won't be visibly present during the time of their attack.]], and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power [see Rev. 9:5, 10]. (4) They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth [These directions ultimately came from God, who is in control. Apparently at least some of the grass that was burned up under the first trumpet (Rev. 8:7) will have been replaced by newly grown grass.], nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. [[In Rev. 7:1-8 we learned that the end-time elect remnant of Israel will be sealed on their foreheads for protection. They won't become Christians until after the rapture at the seventh and last trumpet, so they will need a special seal for protection during the sounding of the trumpets, especially during the events of the sixth trumpet. The true Christians who will be living on the earth during the first half of Daniel's 70th week, in the days before the rapture when the trumpets will be sounding, won't need a special seal: As born-again Christians they have been sealed by God with the blood of Christ and with the Holy Spirit (cf. Eph. 1:13; 4:30; and 2 Cor. 1:22).]] (5) And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months [Compare Rev. 9:10. I assume that this locust attack will last for a literal five months.]; and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a man [cf. Rev. 9:3, 10]. [[It's clear that this warning judgment will be powerful enough to get the attention of the world, and it's equally clear that this judgment is in the category of being a warning of the fast approach of the day of judgment and of the need for repentance, with no one dying under this trumpet. The fact that these locusts won't be able to touch God's people, that it will follow in sequence after the first four trumpets, and that it will last for five months, etc. - just like the Bible said - will make this warning judgment all the more effective at getting the attention of people worldwide. It will be more effective yet if the two witnesses/prophets announce this trumpet before it sounds and/or speak of this warning judgment while it is taking place, which I assume will happen.]] (6) And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die [cf. Job 3:21; 7:15; Jer. 8:3; and Rev. 6:16], and death flees from them. [[I don't believe there's any idea intended that God will prevent men from committing suicide, etc. This verse apparently just emphasizes the fact that the torment that results from the sting of these demonic locusts will be quite severe. This will get the attention of the world.]] (7) The appearance of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle [[JOEL 2:4 says, "Their appearance is like the appearance of horses; And like war horses, so they run." I'll comment briefly on the background and meaning of Joel chapters 1, 2. Joel chapter 1 speaks of a literal invasion of locusts that came to Israel/Judah in the days of Joel. God, through Joel, called for the repentance of His people in the light of their dire straits, and in light of the fact that the day of the Lord was still coming (cf. Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11). Joel chapter 2 builds on the locust invasion of chapter 1 and warns of a mighty invasion of the land of Israel/Judah in the last days by gigantic armies of men, which is likened to an invasion of locusts, and of the need for repentance at that time (not that God's people are supposed to wait for signs before they repent). The last lines of Joel 2:19 ("And I will never again make you a reproach among the nations," of Joel 2:26 ("Then My people will never be put to shame"), and of Joel 2:27 ("And My people will never be put to shame") help demonstrate that Joel chapter 2 looks beyond the days of Joel to God's ultimate salvation of the elect remnant of Israel. Joel chapter 2 has much application for the people of Joel's generation and subsequent generations too.
I believe the ultimate fulfillment of the invasion spoken of in Joel chapter 2 will come to pass with an invasion of large armies (on the very large armies, see under Rev. 9:14-16) that will lead to the intense warfare of the sixth trumpet of the book of Revelation that will be centered in that part of the world which includes Israel/Judah. We can see the effects of this warfare in Joel 2:30, "blood, fire and columns of smoke." Joel 2:31, 32 go on to say, "The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD [Yahweh] comes. (32) And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls." On the intense warfare of the sixth trumpet and the darkening of the sun and moon, see under Rev. 9:13-21 below. The fifth trumpet with its invasion of "locusts" on the earth builds to some extent on Joel, but the sixth trumpet, with the very large armies, apparently builds even more on Joel.
I'll quote from Robert B. Chisholm's introduction to the book of Joel ("Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament" [Victor Books, 1985], pages 1410, 1411). I'll quote part of what he said under the heading "The nature of the army in [Joel] 2:1-11." "Some contend that the locust plague in Joel 1, or an even more severe wave of locusts, is described in 2:1-11. ...
A more likely interpretation is that a literal foreign army is envisioned. The account is patterned after that of chapter 1, the army being described in locust-like terms in many respects (cf. Hans W. Wolff, "Joel and Amos," p. 42). In this way the close relationship and continuity between the plague of chapter 1 and the army of chapter 2 is emphasized. Both were instruments of the Lord's judgment - one past, the other future. Locusts had come - more 'locusts' were coming!
Several observations may be made in support of this position.
(1) The locust plague of chapter 1 was past; the invasion of 2:1-11 was still future from Joel's vantage point (cf. also 1:15). Thus the two accounts cannot deal with the same event (Wolff, "Joel and Amos," pp. 6-7, 42). ...
(2) The army in 2:1-11 is called in 2:20 'the northern army' (literally, 'the northerner'). Locusts usually attack Palestine from the south or southeast, not from the north (though invasions from the north are not unknown; cf. Allen, "The Books of Joel, Obadiah, and Micah," p. 88). The designation 'northerner' more likely refers to a literal foreign army, since historical or eschatological armies are often described as invading Palestine from that direction (including Assyria, Isa. 14:25, 31; Babylon, Jer. 6:1, 22; 15:12; Ezek. 26:7; and Gog, Ezek. 38:15 [cf. Dan. 11:40-44; we will discuss these verses that apparently prophesy of the warfare of the short great tribulation below]).
(3) The use of locust imagery in the description of the army in Joel 2 has parallels in the ancient Near East (cf. John A. Thompson, 'Joel's Locusts in the Light of Near Eastern Parallels,' 'Journal of Near Eastern Studies' 14. 1955:52-5." Chisholm continued with a fourth observation and further discussion.]]; and on their heads appeared to be crowns like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. (8) They had hair like the hair of women [probably meaning long hair], and their teeth were like the teeth of lions. [JOEL 1:6, speaking of literal locusts says, "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."] (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. [[The NIV has, "and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle." JOEL 2:4b, 5 has, "And like war horses, so they run. With a noise as of chariots."]] (10) They have tails like scorpions, and stings; and in their tails is their power to hurt men for five months. [Cf. Rev. 9:3, 5.] (11) They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss [On the abyss see under Rev. 9:1.]; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon [I.e., Destruction. Compare Job 31:12.], and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon [i.e., Destroyer]. [[Apparently the king of these demonic locusts, the angel of the abyss, is an evil angel under Satan who has authority over the abyss. It's possible that the angel of the abyss is the same angel pictured in Rev. 9:1, 2, the one who received the key and opened the shaft of the abyss.]] (12) The first woe is past; behold, two woes [the judgments of the sixth and seventh trumpets (cf. Rev. 8:13)] are still coming after these things.
THE SIXTH TRUMPET (REVELATION 9:13-21) AND THE SHORT GREAT TRIBULATION:
Some Preliminary Comments. These verses that deal with the sounding of the sixth trumpet are extremely important to a correct understanding of the end times. The timing (with respect to Daniel's 70th week) of the abomination of desolation directly affects the timing and content of the warfare of the sixth trumpet, which is the warfare of the short great tribulation. These things are discussed under this heading. ((They are discussed in some detail in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture" and my recently published e-book, "Introduction to the Mid-Week Rapture." (A printed version of the e-book is now available for those who prefer printed books.) For a brief overview see number 8 on page 14, and see pages 31, 32, and 131, 132 of "The Mid-Week Rapture." On the warfare of the sixth trumpet, see pages 137-143 [starting with Dan. 11:40] and pages 149-159 (under Dan. 12:1). On when God's day of wrath begins, see note 24 on pages 308, 309. The warfare of the sixth trumpet is also discussed in my eschatological paper on Matthew chapter 24, which is on my internet site (Google to Karl Kemp Teaching).))
I'll include a few excerpts from Baxter on the meaning of the short great tribulation: "The Great Tribulation is Satan's wrath upon the earth and not the wrath of God, and it begins when he is cast out of heaven" (page 75). He says the devil will be cast down to the earth in the middle of the seven years. (I agree with that last point.) "When he is cast down, Satan launches his persecution called the Great Tribulation" (page 75). "These scriptures [Matt. 24:15, 16, 21] place the casting down of Satan and the Abomination of Desolation at the same time; both of them beginning the Great Tribulation" (page 75). I agree that the Great Tribulation will start about the time of the Abomination of Desolation, but (as I discuss in this paper) I believe the Abomination will take place a month before the middle of Daniel's 70th week. "The Great Tribulation is the wrath of Satan against God's people, and all who will not conform to his lordship upon this earth" (page 114). This paper makes is clear that I don't agree with Baxter's understanding of the short great tribulation: The short great tribulation originates with God (not Satan, but God, who always is fully in control of what is happening, uses four evil angels in His judgment of the extremely intense warfare of the sixth trumpet); the short great tribulation will start a month before Satan is cast down to the earth with his angels and it will be over before the Lord Jesus returns and Satan is cast down in the middle of the seven years.
When Will the Abomination of Desolation of Daniel 9:27; 12:11; and Matthew 24:15 Take Place in Daniel's 70th Week? As I mentioned this topic directly affects our understanding of the short great tribulation.
DANIEL 9:27 (I'll quote this verse as we continue) is the only verse in the Bible that speaks of that super-important seven-year period that is sometimes called Daniel's 70th week, but it is very significant that we read of half of that seven-year period (the equivalent of three and one-half years) in Dan. 7:25 and 12:7 and in five verses in the book of Revelation (11:2, 3; 12:6, 14; and 13:5). Daniel 12:11, which is a very important verse that I will quote and discuss as we continue, mentions 1,290 days, which is the equivalent of three and one-half years plus 30 days (a month). The expressions used in the Bible for the three and one-half year periods are a time, times, and half a time (a year, two years, and half a year); forty-two months; and 1,260 days (42 months times 30 days per month).
Baxter believes (and many agree with him on this point) that all seven of these three and one-half year periods will take place in the second half of Daniel's 70th week. (On Rev. 11:2, 3 see his Chronological Chart for "Daniel's 70th Week for example.) It has always seemed clear to me, and still does, that the three and one-half years of Rev. 11:2 and 3 refer to the first half of the seven-year period. The evidence is very strong! THIS MAKES A GIGANTIC DIFFERENCE IN THE INTERPRETATION OF REVELATION CHAPTERS 11-13, WHICH IS OF KEY IMPORTANCE. For one thing, the seventh and last trumpet sounds in Rev. 11:15, right in the middle of the seven-year period. ((Baxter agrees that the seventh trumpet sounds in Rev. 11:15, but there are gigantic differences in our understanding of the details of Revelation chapters 11-13, and other parts of the book of Revelation. For one thing, Baxter believes the seventh trumpet will sound at the end of the seven years, not in the middle of the seven years. He believes that Rev. 11:1-3 show that Jerusalem will be tread under foot by the Gentiles during the second half of Daniel's 70th week and that the two witnesses will minister then too [see his pages 58-64, for example]. As I mentioned, I am confident that these things will take place in the first half of the seven years.))
I'll quote DANIEL 9:27 and make a few comments in brackets: "And he [Antichrist] will make a firm covenant [or, he will confirm (make strong) a covenant/treaty] with the many [Israel will be involved] for one week [a week of years; a seven-year period; for more details see Dan. 9:24-27 (these verses are discussed in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture," in chapter 8)], but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one [referring to Antichrist and his abomination of desolation] who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed [by God] is poured out on the one who makes desolate [referring to Antichrist]."
Assuming that this covenant/treaty will be ratified in the near future, it will undoubtedly give the Palestinians much of what they want, and it will probably include Israel giving up control of Jerusalem (Rev. 11:2), but with Israel being given the right to rebuild the temple on the temple mount north of the Dome of the Rock. Israel will be promised security, but sometimes the promises of men are worth zero, or less than that.
I'll quote DANIEL 12:11 ((This is one of the most important verses we will discuss in this paper. I don't believe we can adequately understand the details of Daniel's 70th week and the end times unless we rightly interpret this verse. I don't believe Baxter rightly interprets it, but most agree with him; the majority is often wrong. I'll quote from the NASB, which I always use unless I mention otherwise.)): "From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up [I would translate "is initiated" or the equivalent (see pages 183, 184 of my "The Mid-Week Rapture"); we will discuss the image of the beast as we continue.], there will be 1,290 days." Our primary purpose here is to discuss the 1,290 days. This verse is of crucial significance in that it shows that the abomination will take place a month before the more precise middle of Daniel's 70th week. As we will discuss, Dan. 12:11 (and other significant considerations) demonstrate that the words "in the middle of the week" of Dan. 9:27 speak of the approximate middle of the seven-year period. Antichrist's abomination of desolation will consist of his going into the (rebuilt) temple in Jerusalem, putting a stop to sacrifice and grain offering, and demanding that he be worshiped (cf., e.g., Dan. 9:27; 11:36, 37; Matt. 24:15; and 2 Thess. 2:3, 4).
Antichrist's abomination of desolation has nothing to do with the image of the beast of Rev. 13:14, 15. For one thing, the false prophet will not have the image of the beast (the beast is Antichrist) made until the second half of Daniel's 70th week, AFTER THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION (which will take place a month before the mid-week return of the Lord Jesus and the rapture), and after Antichrist has been killed and come back from the dead.
The image will commemorate the fact that Antichrist has come back from the dead (Rev. 13:12, 14; cf. 13:3; 17:8 with 11:7). Antichrist will apparently be killed during the very intense warfare of the short great tribulation of Matt. 24:21, 22, which will take place AFTER the abomination of desolation of Matt. 24:15. And it is clear, I believe, that he will come back from the dead (he will come up out of the abyss [Rev. 11:7]) AFTER the abomination of desolation and in time to kill the two witnesses whose bodies will lay dead in Jerusalem for three and one-half days before they come back to life and are raptured before the watching world right in the middle of the seven years. (It is very unlikely that Antichrist will be killed before the abomination or that much time will pass between the time he comes back from the dead and the time he kills the two witnesses.) As I mentioned, Dan. 12:11 enables us to see that the abomination of desolation will take place a month before the return of the Lord Jesus and the rapture.
We will discuss these things in more detail as we continue, and they are discussed in some detail in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture," and my recently published e-book, "Introduction to the Mid-Week Rapture." (As I mentioned the printed version of the e-book is now available.) "The Mid-Week Rapture" contains much more information, but "Introduction to the Mid-Week Rapture" should typically be read first; for one thing it is easier to read and it deals more directly with the timing of the return of the Lord Jesus and the rapture. Both books are available at amazon.com, and both paperback books are available on my internet site (Google to Karl Kemp Teaching). Also, quite a few of my papers dealing with the end times are available on my internet site.
((ZECHARIAH 11:8 serves as a rather strong confirmation of a one-month period that will take place right before Antichrist begins his three and one-half year super-evil reign in the middle of the seven years. Antichrist cannot begin this super-evil reign until he has been killed and come back from the dead. (As I mentioned, we know that he will come back from the dead in time to kill the two witnesses three and one-half days before the mid-week rapture [Rev. 11:8-13]). And there is another very significant thing that must take place before Antichrist begins his three and one-half year super-evil reign: The devil must give him "his power, his throne, and great authority" (Rev. 13:2) right after the devil is cast down to the earth at the time the Lord Jesus returns in the middle of the seven years (Rev. 12:7-9).
Zechariah 11:8 prophesies of God's judging and "annihilating the three shepherds [three rulers] IN ONE MONTH [my emphasis]." I believe this refers to the same event that Daniel prophesied in Dan. 7:8, 20, where Antichrist uproots THREE of the ten horns. He undoubtedly will kill (or have killed) three of the ten rulers because they are not in agreement with him and his plans. During that one-month period after the abomination of desolation and before the rapture would be the perfect time for him to deal with the three rulers, shortly before he begins his super-evil three and one-half year reign (cf. Dan. 7:25; Rev. 13:5). The TEN rulers (horns) are mentioned in the book of Revelation, so the three rulers will be replaced by rulers who fully support Antichrist. Zechariah chapter 11 is discussed verse-by-verse in chapter 14 of my "The Mid-Week Rapture." It is interesting and important that Zech. 11:15-17 prophesy about Antichrist.))
The desolation that will take place after Antichrist enters the temple and is manifested as Antichrist will not come to an end until the Lord Jesus terminates him (and the false prophet) at the end of the seven years (see Rev. 19:20; Dan. 7:11). BY COUNTING BACKWARDS 1,290 DAYS FROM THE END OF THE SEVEN YEARS, WE CAN SEE THAT THE ABOMINATION WILL TAKE PLACE SOME 30 DAYS, A MONTH, BEFORE THE MIDDLE OF THE SEVEN YEARS. (As I mentioned, half of the seven-year period is 1,260 days.) THIS IS SUPER-IMPORTANT INFORMATION! For one thing, it enables us to rightly interpret MATTHEW CHAPTER 24. The information that the abomination of desolation will take place a month before the middle of the seven years leaves time for the short great tribulation (Matt. 24:21, 22) before the return of the Lord Jesus and the rapture in the middle of Daniel's 70th week (Matt. 24:29-31). When we discuss the key passages that speak of the warfare of the short great tribulation (especially the warfare of the sixth trumpet) it will be obvious that this warfare can easily be completed within a one-month period.
As I mentioned, I believe Dan. 9:27 speaks of the middle of the seven years in approximate terms and that Dan. 12:11 shows that that in more precise terms Antichrist will go into the temple a month before the more precise middle. This interpretation is totally reasonable because the Hebrew noun ("chatsi") that is translated middle in Dan. 9:27 is frequently used in very imprecise ways in the Old Testament. For example, in Ex. 12:29; Jud. 16:3; and Ruth 3:8 chatsi is used of things happening in the middle of the night. That is very imprecise terminology! And In Psalm 102:24 the psalmist prays that he may not be taken away (by death) in the midst (chatsi) of his days (also see Jer. 17:11). Again, it is obvious that a precise middle was not intended in these two verses. It is very reasonable to say that Antichrist will go into the temple, etc. in the approximate middle, a month before the more precise middle. A month before the more precise middle is 2.38 percent removed from the more precise middle. If we don't get this detail right, I don't believe we can adequately understand many end-time details, very much including the short great tribulation of Matt. 24:21, 22.
We will continue to discuss the abomination of desolation, including when it will take place at the beginning of Part 6.
© Copyright by Karl Kemp
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