Wednesday, 13 January 2021
And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon. Revelation 9:11
The description of the locusts (the jet fighters) is complete. But now we are given another insight concerning them. John now says, “And they had as king over them.” These words definitively show that the “locusts” are not actual locusts. Locusts don’t have stings, but they also don’t have a king over them, as Solomon says in the Proverbs –
“The locusts have no king,
Yet they all advance in ranks;” Proverbs 30:27
These locusts do though. What is of great interest is that the New Testament writers almost always follow the Greek translation of the Old Testament when making citations. Understanding this, a clue as to who this king is may be provided in the Greek translation of Amos 7:1 –
“Thus has the Lord God shewed me; and, behold, a swarm of locusts coming from the east; and, behold, one caterpillar, king Gog.” Brenton Septuagint Translation
This verse from Amos not only refers to locusts probably in a figurative sense, but the Greek translation notes that they are led by a king, Gog. Scholars find this as a mistranslation or a corrupt reading, but it appears to be exactly what John is referring to. If so, the army of locusts (meaning jet fighters) would be a part of the coalition of forces under Russia as described in Ezekiel 38, and the battle would be definitely referring to forces allied against Israel.
To add into the speculation even more, the Hebrew reading of Amos 7:1 says –
“Thus the Lord God showed me: Behold, He formed locust swarms at the beginning of the late crop; indeed it was the late crop after the king’s mowings.”
This verse in the Hebrew text could possibly be referring to the rapture as it refers to the “king’s mowings.” In other words, the harvest of Christ at the rapture has passed, and now the “late crop” of the tribulation period is being referred to. If this is correct, and this can only be speculation, then two prominent truths can be discerned –
- The rapture is pretribulation (something completely supported elsewhere in Scripture), and
- The battle of Gog/Magog of Ezekiel 38 occurs after the rapture.
Of this king, John next says he is, “the angel of the bottomless pit.” This would then clearly define the king as a human being, even if under the power of the devil. Whether or not this king is the same as the angel referred to in verses 9:1 and 9:2 is debated, but it is certain he is a human here in verse 9:11. Of him, John continues by saying, “whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon.”
Both names to be given are to be taken as a personification of the person being described. The Hebrew word Abaddon here thus means Destruction. It is this king’s scriptural designation.
The word Abaddon is found five times in the Old Testament. The references are Job 26:6, 28:22 & 31:12; Psalm 88:11; and Proverbs 15:11. It must be noted that Abaddon is said to be under the full control and authority of the Lord in Job 26:6 and Proverbs 15:11. In other words, the Lord is in control of all of the events that take place, and nothing is “out of control” in regard to His plan and purposes.
John next finishes the verse with, “but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.” The word means “Destroyer.” It comes from a common word used over ninety times in the New Testament, apollumi. That means to destroy or perish. The word Apollyon is found only this once in the Bible.
Giving the name in both the Hebrew and the Greek is a common writing tool of John in his gospel. This clearly identifies the fact that Revelation, like all of the New Testament, was written in Greek, while translating the Hebrew for the reader. In this, it solidifies the meaning of otherwise doubtful words and phrases. It also draws the Bible into one unified whole, regardless of the language used in the original writing.
As another linguistic note, John uses the term Hebraisti to describe the language that the word Abaddon was translated from. Saying “Hebrew” here is correct. However, the term Hebraisti is only used by John, and it is found in his writings seven times. Several of those times, however, it is not referring to Hebrew, but rather to Aramaic – such as in the words Gabbatha and Golgotha. Thus, the term does not mean solely “Hebrew.” Rather, it speaks of the Semitic tongues inclusive of both Hebrew and Aramaic (Chaldee).
It is the Aramaic or Chaldee that became the predominant tongue of the people after the Babylonian exile, as is evidenced elsewhere in the New Testament. This is true of both the written alphabet and the spoken language.
Life application: As was noted in a previous commentary, the attacks of these “locusts” is direct and targeted in an attempt to avoid destroying the people. It is a common trait among the forces of the western world today.
While other armies wage war without any regard for who is killed, the battles and wars waged by various armies in the recent past have showed immense restraint in their conduct. The opposing forces are first “softened up” and allowed a chance to surrender. After this, the armies come at their foe with fully unleashed power and with the intent of subduing them. This appears to be the pattern of this future army of “locusts.” As is seen in the above analysis, this is quite possibly the forces of Gog, meaning Russia. This would then align with the words of Ezekiel 38 –
“Thus says the Lord God: ‘On that day it shall come to pass that thoughts will arise in your mind, and you will make an evil plan: 11 You will say, “I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates”— 12 to take plunder and to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land. 13 Sheba, Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions will say to you, “Have you come to take plunder? Have you gathered your army to take booty, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take great plunder?”’” Ezekiel 38:10-13
The intent of the coming battle is not to destroy the people, but to take the spoil without completely destroying the land in the process. Both Ezekiel and John are confirming this is what is to be expected.
As a special note for the student of the Bible is that, since 2020, the possibility of the events described here in Ezekiel 38 are now much more plausible than they were previously. The nations mentioned: Sheba, Dedan and (the merchants of) Tarshish are coming into focus in a new way.
Sheba and Dedan are both located in the area in and around Saudi Arabia. Sheba is believed to be the Kingdom of Saba in southern Arabia. Dedan was a city-state and oasis area of north-western Arabia mentioned at times in the Bible.
The location of Tarshish is highly debated. Some analysis say it is Lebanon, some Spain, and some even England (and other locations). Regardless of that location, the text doesn’t say “Tarshish,” but rather “the merchants of Tarshish,” implying trading partners. Further, the term “all their young lions” speaks of the surrounding city states. This would be inclusive of all of the small countries that border Saudi Arabia – Bahrain, Oman, the UAE, and etc.
Only since the presidency of Donald Trump have these nations began to (and some have) make treaties with Israel. Hence, they are said in Ezekiel to not be a part of the attacking forces coming against Israel. Instead of being allied with the invaders, these states will instead stand back and keep distance from the invading armies who come for the spoil. The world’s alignment of nations is matching up with the biblical narrative, even before our eyes.
As for the layout of the battle in the verse being analyzed, the coming verses will show that after the air war has softened up the people of the land (meaning of Israel), a great force – inclusive of a coalition of armies – will then come by land in an attempt to complete the task.
The point of this is that Israel is still not right with the Lord. They have been returned to the land, but they are as far from Him as the rest of the world. The tribulation period is intended to bring Israel to the point where the only option left is to forsake their own self-reliance and pride, and to finally turn to the Lord. The book is written, and the events will come to pass. And those areas of Scripture that are not debatable as to their true meaning will finally be understood perfectly by those who see the events unfold before their very eyes.
The prophetic word has the ultimate goal of revealing Christ to the nations and Messiah to Israel. The point of it all is JESUS.
Lord, we know You have sovereign authority over everything that occurs in the world. Even great battles are directed by You to accomplish Your purposes. Nothing is out of Your control, and so we can rest in this knowledge, trusting that the displeasing events around us do serve a good ultimate purpose. Help us to remember this when we look at the immorality and wickedness that permeates the world today. You will bring it all to a satisfactory end, and You will be glorified as You do. Thank You for this assurance. Amen.