A Preview of Hell - Relentless Terror
Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
-Revelation 9:3, emphasis added
As the shaft leading downward is unlocked, the infernal smoke of the pit will billow out of the darkness and unleash the pent-up fury of hell. When that pit is opened, locusts will emerge like the smoke of a furnace. With the most destructive imagery known to man, the Apostle John described the creatures as locusts.
Because locusts were such relentless destroyers, no plague was more fearsome in the ancient world. Truly, the day of the Lord, portrayed in this short prophetic oracle's revelation through God's Spirit, is a day that is to be heeded. God clearly demonstrates the need for repentance and the physical disaster that must follow moral disintegration.
As a vehicle of judgment, three times God uses locusts as a plague of horrific proportions:
- Moses unleashed an eighth plague on Egypt-locusts that horribly devoured every green thing left after the hail (Exodus 10:4, 12-14, 19).
- God sent a plague of locusts on Israel that horribly destroyed all that was green and thus caused economic devastation as well (Joel 1-2).
- The fifth trumpet will sound the release from the abyss of horrible demonic hordes of locusts (Revelation 9:3, 7).
Today, few readers of the book of Joel are likely to experience a locust plague. With current eradication methods, a locust swarm in modern Israel is indeed a rare phenomenon. In ancient times, however, the land of Israel was frequently subject to invasions by the desert locust, schistocerca gregaria. Exodus 10:1-20 describes the locust as perhaps nature's most awesome example of the collective destructive power of a species. Adult locusts weigh a maximum of two grams, and yet their combined destructive force can leave thousands of people in famine for years. The locust plagues were very much feared in ancient Egypt. So much so that the peasants were in the habit of praying to the locust god, for Satan likes to keep superstitious peoples enslaved to his demonic horde's evil powers.
John J. Davis reports:
A swarm can contain over a billion creatures that, all together, can weigh more than three million pounds. One locust, with his colleagues, form gregarious marching bands up to ten miles wide and ten miles long. The marching bands move forward at a slow cadence, perhaps no more than 250 feet per hour, and may travel no farther than fifteen miles from their staging area. But within their path the hoppers may consume virtually every tender blade of grass or legume. The extraordinary appearance of this marching band with its mass of tiny pullulating bodies can be unnerving, to say the least. In the words of Joel, ‘Before them earth trembles, Heaven shakes . . .' (Joel 2:10). The marching bands are oblivious to obstacles: ‘They rush up the wall, they dash about in the city; They climb into the houses, They enter like thieves by way of the windows' (Joel 2:9).
As we contemplate the horrors ahead, we need to make sure to build our lives upon the Rock, and not upon the sands of life that will sweep us away in the storms. We should live expectantly to hasten the coming of the Lord. How can we hasten the day of God? Jesus will return when the last person to become a part of His church is saved. In light of that, every time I kneel to pray with someone who wants to be born again, I expectantly think: Maybe this is the last one whom God will save before Jesus calls His church home!
Do you want to hasten heaven? Lead people to Christ! Build a fireproof life: don't live for what is here on earth, because all this is going to pass away. That is how to best get ready for the end!
To find this message online, please click here.
For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit discoverthebook.org.