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The Smoke of the Abyss

27 Aug
Smoke of the pit

from Google Images

In Revelation 9:2 the fallen star (verse-1) opened the bottomless pit (G12) or the pit of the abyss (G12), and immediately smoke arose out of the pit. Most often in the Old Testament, smoke is used to express the presence of the Lord either in the form of salvation of the righteous (cf. Exodus 19:18) or in the form of judgment upon the wicked (Genesis 19:28). Here, after the blowing of the Fifth Trumpet, the smoke, as the smoke of a great furnace, arose out of the abyss, and the sun was hid, which may signify that what was done by opening the abyss hid heavenly light. That is to say, opening the abyss resulted in a final rejection of or at least the continuation of hiding the truth, which in the context of the Apocalypse means: the smoke hid the truth of the Gospel, as it was then being preached by Jesus’ disciples, whom the Jewish authorities were persecuting.

One might even say that the ascending smoke or opening the pit of the abyss was the star’s attempt to act like God, because the high priest (Revelation 9:1; cf. 8:10-11) was able to bring something back into existence that had ceased to exist. In other words he performed a miracle. Thus, the star or the high priest, if you will, stood in the place of God, showing that he was God (cf. 2Thessalonians 2:4). Considering the star’s using the key to open the abyss, reminds me of Israel tempting God in the wilderness at Rephidim. There, they couldn’t find water, so they tempted the Lord, saying “Is the Lord among us or not” (Exodus 17:7).

The sense seems to be the Lord **must** act to save his people. It is putting the Lord our God in a place where he **must** do as we desire.[1] In fact, this is not unlike what Adam did in the Garden of Eden. He ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, believing the Lord **must** allow him to live or save him from dying (Genesis 2:16-17), because he was all the Lord had to work with. In other words, Adam could do as he pleased and the Lord **must** support him, if the Lord wanted to have anything to do with his creation, over which Adam was appointed ruler (Genesis 1:27)!

It is all about arrogance: Adam could do as he pleased, and the Lord couldn’t do much, if anything, about it, and Israel could **force** God to do as they pleased, because God promised to be with them and save them. In the context of the star (or the high priest) opening the pit of the abyss, even though the Jews were putting themselves in danger by going to war with Rome, the Lord would be **forced** to send the Messiah to save them. The concept is one of idolatry, for this is how the pagans worshiped.[2] By opening the pit of the abyss, the Jews really thought they could manipulate God and force him to send the Messiah in the time **they** wished.

Josephus claims that the real beginning of the war occurred when the priests refused to allow any sacrifice in the Temple to be made by or for gentiles, especially Rome. Notice:

At the same time Eleazar, the son of Ananias the high priest, a very bold youth, who was at that time governor of the temple, persuaded those that officiated in the Divine service to receive no gift or sacrifice for any foreigner. And this was the true beginning of our war with the Romans; for they rejected the sacrifice of Caesar on this account… [3]

This Eleazar was the son of Ananias, the high priest who had James, the brother of the Lord slain just after the death of Festus,[4] the Roman governor who had sent Paul to Rome to appear before Nero (Acts 25:12; 27:1-2). This same Eleazar was the grandson of Annas, the high priest, who was the power behind Caiaphas, the officiating high priest, before whom Jesus was tried and condemned to die (cf. John 18:12-13, 24). Thus, it seems evident in the Scriptures that the high priest was behind the Jews’ attempt to become independent from Rome. Their act, indicated by the smoke of the pit, was to bring the independent Jewish nation back into existence, and such a thing was an act of idolatry, because it sought to force God to act on their behalf and at a time of their choosing.[5]

___________________________________________

[1] Such an attitude is not unlike the ‘Name It and Claim It’ philosophy sometimes taught in Christian churches, today.

[2] See an earlier study of mine: Monotheism v/s Polytheism.

[3] Josephus: Wars of the Jews; 2.17.2

[4] Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews; 20.9.1

[5] My conclusion at this point does not agree with Josephus, but I’ll address that issue in my next study.

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Posted by on August 27, 2019 in Apocalypse, Book of Revelation

 

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