“Tormented Five Months” – A Study of Revelation 9:5
And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.
In the previous verse we discover that these false prophets (spiritual locusts) were commanded NOT to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, neither were they to hurt any tree. We see that these biblical symbols are depictions of true Christians. The locusts were commanded to hurt only those men who do not have the seal of God in their foreheads or in other words all unbelievers. When we arrive at verse five we further discover that these locusts are commanded not to kill the unbelievers (those who have not the seal of God in their foreheads). Rather, they are commissioned to torment them five months. The latter half of this verse defines their torment as being like the torment of a scorpion when he strikes a person. We see then that this verse is broken down into two thoughts:
1 – These false ministers, teachers, etc. are not to kill the unbelievers of the earth, but they are to torment them for five months.
2 – Secondly, the torment that these false prophets inflict can be described only as the torment of a scorpion, when he strikes a man.
THEY SHOULD BE TORMENTED FIVE MONTHS
We begin this section by asking the question:
Which is best, to be physically killed or to be tormented for five months?
Of course we need to clarify the question in order to understand and give a proper answer. We have already dealt with the word torment as it is defined in chapter nine of Revelation. It carries the same meaning as does the word hurt; the eternal torment and hurt of outer darkness, which is assigned to all who have not trusted upon Christ for their eternal security. All unbelievers have been consigned to five months of this outer darkness; this eternal hell.
After interpreting four verses that have been strictly symbolic in nature, do we now dare to embrace a bit of literalism as the way to understand the meaning of this difficult passage?
Do we view this period of five months as being five literal months?
It would not be consistent in the least with the context of what is being taught in this ninth chapter.
If this period of time in not literal, how then can we make sense of it?
We begin by examining all areas in Scripture that speak of a time period of five months, whether it is described in months, weeks, or even in days, we need to search it out. The number five in Scripture first of all signifies God’s grace. An in-depth study of this number would be beneficial in comprehending the hidden wonders that God has embedded into this number. We have established the fact that to receive of this hurt or to receive of this torment would necessitate one being assigned to an eternal destination outside of Christ. Be absolutely assured that this outer darkness is indeed eternal in length; there is no end to it. In Revelation chapter twenty we see the exact same Greek word translated “tormented” as we have in Revelation 9:5.
Revelation 20:10 – ”And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”
The term five months would require a figurative solution, rather than a literal time span; for on the other side of the grave there is no time as we know it. The context of the phrase “they should be tormented five months” encompasses the judgment of God. The topic and theme is in fact God’s eternal judgment. As we look back to the Old Testament picture of Judgment Day, we find the flood of Noah’s day depicting the final Day of the Lord – Judgment Day.
Those within the Ark (a ship) were the only life saved out of the old world just as Christ’s true Church (symbolic ship in Scripture) will be the only life saved at the soon coming judgment of this world. The odds of becoming eternally saved were certainly much slimmer during Old Testament days. Satan was also loosed upon the earth and had not yet been destroyed by Christ at the cross. Nevertheless, Noah and his family found safety within the ark. This ship indeed signified a future grand spiritual ship in which our only safety would be found, and that of course is in the safety as Christ’s bride, His eternal Church. Noah and his family remained on board the ark while everything on earth was undergoing God’s judgment. The waters covered all the land masses to the full extent that nothing remained out of water. God’s judgment was swift and precise; nothing escaped.
Genesis 8:3 tells us that “…the waters returned continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.” A hundred and fifty days is equal to FIVE MONTHS, a biblical month being thirty days. Yes, even as far back as the days of the flood, God’s foretelling of the final and eternal Judgment Day was signified by the figurative time span of five months. During this time everything on the earth was under divine judgment. Five months would symbolically imply God’s eternal and world wide judgment.
Genesis 7:23-24 –
23 – And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.
24 – And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.
God’s judgment prevailed upon the earth for five months or a hundred and fifty days. Notice that Revelation 9:5 declares that these scorpions will torment for five months while Revelation 9:10 says they will hurt men for five months. “And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months,” (Revelation 9:10). We again see this same Greek word for hurt used in Revelation 9:19 in reference to these locusts or scorpions: “For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.” This Greek translation for the word hurt is the same Greek word used in Revelation 11:4-5 –
4 – These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
5 – And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
The fire that proceeds out of the mouth of these two witnesses (Christ’s true Church) will certainly devour – in the spiritual essence – their enemies, as this fire is nothing less than the Gospel of Christ. From the mouths of Christ’s elect this fire will go forth and slay the enemies of the cross. The phrase “If any man will hurt them” seems most certainly to be implying deception; that is if anyone will try and spiritually deceive them. We clearly saw that “hurt” is just a figure of biblical speech that implies spiritual destruction. As for God’s elect, if anyone will try and hurt (spiritually deceive) them, rest assured God’s Gospel will proceed out of their mouths as fire. How did John the Baptist describe this Gospel that Christ was to bring? He implied that the Holy Spirit was a spiritual fire. Consider the following verse:
Matthew 3:11 – I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
When the Holy Ghost was given at Pentecost, Acts 2:3 describes it as “cloven tongues like as of fire.”
It seems that God’s judgment upon the world, and especially the unsaved within the corporate church, is not merely to kill physically. Rather than that, far worse is God’s eternal damnation of a Christ-less eternity; a non-ending torment of five months.
LAZARUS AND THE RICH MAN: A CLUE TO THE “FIVE” MONTHS?
19 – ¶There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
20 – And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
21 – And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 – And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
23 – And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 – And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
25 – But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
26 – And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
27 – Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:
28 – For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
29 – Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
30 – And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
31 – And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
The above parable is a most somber reality. Fire is not only a figure for the preaching of the Holy Ghost, but it also signifies the eternal darkness of those who leave this land of the living without the eternal security of the Saviour. After the rich man was in already doomed in outer darkness he then called out for mercy and asked for the saving grace of the Gospel … “have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water (the Gospel waters), and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” As we saw earlier it is the WORDS of the deceivers that sting as the scorpions. It is their lying words which come forth from their tongues. Why does this rich man ask for a tiny dip of water for his tongue? If he really were in some type of eternal flame would a single finger tip of water help sustain him in the least? Of course not, but God continues to teach us truths in allegories, types, figures, metaphors, etc. Why is the rich man asking for the slight amount of water for his tongue? It seems most biblical and in accordance with Scripture to submit to the reader that this is defining the new creature in Christ; those with a new heart will in turn speak the words of God (the cool waters of the Gospel) from their tongue.
Psalms 35:28 – And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.
Psalms 37:30 – The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.
Psalms 39:1 – ¶ I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.
Psalms 71:24 – My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long: for they are confounded, for they are brought unto shame, that seek my hurt.
Psalms 119:172 – My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.
Proverbs 10:20 – The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth.
Proverbs 12:18 – There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.
Proverbs 15:4 – A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.
We could site more Scripture but the point is well taken. The rich man in hell did not simply perish from all existence. No, God is teaching that he is fully aware of where he is. What horrors to be in this predicament! It is nearly indescribable, yet it is a part of God’s Word. The rich man is asking for the saving grace of God’s Gospel, that he may leave that place of eternal torment. He then asks God to send Abraham to his father’s house and warn his FIVE brothers of this place of torment. What is God’s reply to him? In verse thirty-one God answers this way: “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” In other words God states that if the rich man’s five brothers will not hear Moses and the prophets they will certainly not believe even if one rose from the dead…a clear reference to Christ’s resurrection. These five brothers of this rich man, now in eternal torment, would appear to be representative of ALL those who are destined for the torments of eternal damnation. It appears to be the case, even though we can’t be certain; however it does look to be solidly based upon Scripture. These five brothers might well tell the story of hell as they symbolize the five months of eternal torment.
TORMENT: AS THE TORMENT OF A SCORPION
We are told that the result of the torment from these false teachers is comparable to the torment of a scorpion when he strikes a man. The key words to investigate are scorpion and striketh. In the natural realm of things, the scorpion is characterized by an elongate body with the abdomen reduced to a slender, jointed tail bearing a stinging organ at the tip. Scorpions usually live concealed under stones in desert regions. One reason why God may have used scorpions in depicting false prophets (as well as locusts) is the fact that as Christians, we are indeed sojourning through a spiritual wilderness. “And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear,” (I Peter 1:17). “Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years,” (Exodus 12:40). There can be no doubt that the wanderings in the wilderness of the Old Testament children of Israel were picturing the sojourning of the New Testament “Israel of God” through this life; that is through this spiritual wilderness. The earth is indeed a spiritual wilderness and has been so since Satan deceived our first parents in the Garden of Eden. As Satan is responsible for making this world a spiritual wilderness, there can be no doubt, however, man played an important role in this as well. All was achieved in accordance with God’s sovereign will, of course. Nonetheless, Satan did reduce the world that was once, in the beginning, a perfect place; both with man and beast in perfect harmony with God the Creator. Satan reduced the earth to a spiritual wilderness. Isaiah 14:16-17 speaks of this very thing in indicating that Satan will be reduced to the image of a mere fallen man:
16 – They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;
17 – That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?
How did Satan make this world into a wilderness? By deceiving man into believing the lies of the serpent. This world has been a spiritual wilderness ever since the fall of Adam and Eve. At the first coming of Christ, the parch ground of this wilderness was finally given moisture by the going forth of the WATERS of the Gospel. Consider the following verses:
Isaiah 35:7 – And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
[God speaks in beautiful parables filled with metaphors or allegories. The parched ground or thirsty land without question is depicted as earth’s masses of humanity before God’s saving Gospel is rained down on the earth. Once Christ opened the gates of heaven His good news of eternal salvation penetrated many hearts that created His Bride and true Church. God’s elect was then symbolized as grass with reeds and rushed. Their hearts were fertile ground for God’s Word to grow and multiply. It is this green grass that Satan has always been after and his ministers (portrayed as locusts) will have their last attack at silencing Christ’s words as they metaphorically eat up the grass of the earth at the end of time.]
Isaiah 43:20 – The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, … TO GIVE DRINK TO MY PEOPLE, MY CHOSEN.”
[Can we get any clearer than this?]
Isaiah 51:3 – For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.
[“Joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.” Where does the world, this spiritual wilderness, find this joy and gladness; this thanksgiving and the voice of melody? It is found ONLY within the people whom God’s truth of living waters has rained down upon. Before God’s Word went forth into this world, the spiritual condition of the earth was indeed as a parched ground, a thirsty land, a wilderness and a desert. ]
Isaiah 32:1 – ¶Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.
2 And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
[This wonderful verse describes the characteristics of a true child of God. The King that reigns in righteousness is of course Christ Himself. The princes that shall rule with Him in judgment would be the believers (1 Corinthians 6:2). A believer shall be a hiding place from the wind. As Christians, our life is hidden in Christ, and nothing can spiritually touch us and deceive us away from Christ. We know that Christ alone is our hiding place from Satan’s world and a covert or shelter from any tempest. The Christian life is a spiritual renewal; as rivers of water in this spiritually dry world. The true believer is as the shadow of a great rock in a weary or thirsty land. We are to be the shadow of Christ; we live clothed in His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). We are the shadow of this great rock, and Christ is this great rock – THE ROCK OF AGES. Christ was the rock in Numbers 20:8, from which the children of Israel received water in the wilderness. Christ is my “rock and my salvation,” Psalm 62:2. Christ is the rock upon which He built His Church, Matthew 16:18.]
Speaking of the sojourning of the Old Testament congregation of God (the children of Israel), Scripture plainly tells us that they were following the same God as the New Testament spiritual Jew follows…that is Christ. Consider the following passages:
1 Corinthians 10:1-4 –
1 – Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
To fall victim to the Biblical scorpion necessitates one receiving the STING of death. This sting is the result of our inherited sinful nature, 1 Corinthians 15:53. The only way in which to escape the eternal sting of these scorpions is by being covered with the robe of Christ’s righteousness. We must put on Christ Himself and live in Him. This corruption must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality, 1 Corinthians 15:53. Only after we have put on this incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality…then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (I Corinthians 15:54-55)
Sadly we must concede that the great majority of humanity who has ever lived will never experience the joy of having been robed in Christ’s righteousness. “Because straight in the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it,” (Matthew 7:14). On the other hand, God’s call for salvation is to all people. “And the spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely,” (Revelation 22:7).
WHAT IS THE WHEAT TO THE CHAFF?
We have examined the biblical interpretation of scorpion. In briefly reviewing, we found that the prophet Ezekiel was commissioned by God and sent to preach to the rebellious children of Israel. Incidentally, there were God’s saved among rebellious Israel during the Old Testament days, but the majority were only associated by blood lineage and had no real conversion by the Spirit of God. This was God’s congregation or church of the Old Testament days. Similarly, the New Testament church consists mainly of unbelievers who attend and stay within the church for various reasons. The true New Testament “Israel of God” or the true Church is scattered worldwide and consists one hundred percent of true believes. As God sent Ezekiel to proclaim His Word to them, He warns the prophet that they are a rebellious house; He warns Ezekiel not to be afraid of their words, and goes on to tell him that he will be among BRIERS and THORNS. We should be able to see the figurative language here being representative of a spiritual wilderness. Briers and thorns are only too common in the wilderness, unlike green grass, trees, and green things. God tells Ezekiel that he dwells among SCORPIONS; being synonymous with briers and thorns, of course. In concluding this thought on the scriptural identity of scorpions, it must be said that scorpions are those men of the rebellious house of Israel (Old Testament), and those men of the rebellious house of Israel (New Testament), that teach lies and false doctrines. Be not afraid of their WORDS, God insists, with regard not only to Ezekiel but to all who love and study the Word of God. These scorpions dwell in the wilderness and can be extremely deadly. As this world is viewed by God as a spiritual wilderness, it is no wonder God uses desert dwelling scorpions to symbolize those false teachers who can spiritually kill with the words from their mouths. They carry the eternal sting of death with which they strike and torment men eternally. God gives us plenty of warning throughout Scripture against these scorpions. For example, consider Jeremiah chapter twenty-three, which is one of many warnings in Scripture:
Jeremiah 23:11 – For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD.
Jeremiah 23:14 – I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.
God says of these leaders of His congregations, that they strengthen the hands of evildoers as Jeremiah 23:14 prophesied of so many centuries ago. The church is now being judged by God and the end of all things will soon be at hand.
Jeremiah 23:16 – Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.
Jeremiah 23:21 – I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.
Jeremiah 23:28 – The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.
Verse 28 above is an extremely revealing verse as God is distinguishing here between the believers (wheat) and the unbelievers (chaff). PLEASE NOTE: The chaff or unbelievers are right in among the congregations of the true believers. Those who want to declare dreams and visions today as being from God are false apostles, pure and simple. How often do we turn on a television or radio program and hear some minister declaring that God has given him a wonderful and exciting message in a vision or dream and wants him to share it with the world? This is occurring every day on a [worldwide] scale. God is telling us here in Jeremiah 23:28 he that has a dream, let him tell it. On the other hand, he that has God’s Word let him speak it FAITHFULLY! If you cannot make a distinction between the two, God makes it for us by saying … “what is the wheat to the chaff?” The wheat clearly signifies those true believers who speak God’s Word faithfully and NOT according to their own personal sin tainted dreams or self-created visions. In order to speak God’s Word faithfully one must not add nor take anything from God’s Word as multitudes of chaff within the congregations insist on doing today without ever giving it one iota of concern. (Matthew 7:22-23 – “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”) The chaff will go on declaring their false dreams and visions while the wheat will continue to faithfully proclaim God’s completed Word.
It is an abomination to God to declare these dreams and visions in the name of Christ simply because God has finished His Word to man in what we call the Holy Bible. God does not need nor will He tolerate man’s selfish and prideful attempts at lifting up oneself by declaring that God has spoken personally to him. In this Era of the New Covenant Age God speaks to us only from His finished work of Scripture. If you want to truly hear what God has to say to us today, then simply read the Bible. If you think you may have something to add to God’s perfect Word by declaring a self-made dream or vision as being from God, then you may well go ahead and declare it and possibly deceive many by your poisonous words but – know this: Your words are but a portion of the venomous and lethal dosage of the darkened scorpions from hell.
Jeremiah 23:32 – Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.
Let us look at a cross reference to this word lightness. Here in Jeremiah 23:32 it is defined as frivolity, which is lack of seriousness; unimportant; or even silly. This is the only passage in all of Scripture where this particular word is used. It is closely related to the word light in Zephaniah 3:4 which is defined as follows: “a primitive root; to bubble up or froth (as boiling water), that is, figuratively to be unimportant: – light.” (From Strong’s Hebrew.)
1- ¶Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city!
2 – She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the LORD; she drew not near to her God.
3 – Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow.
4 – Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary; they have done violence to the law.
5 – The just LORD is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.
6 – I have cut off the nations: their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passeth by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant.
7 – I said, Surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, and corrupted all their doings.
Who is the oppressing city mentioned in verse one above? It is the earthly spiritual Jerusalem; the outer shell of the true Church of Christ. Yes, it is the [worldwide] corporate church consisting of both wheat and tares or chaff. There is no mention of any good within this church according to Zephaniah 3:1-7. This language is the same that we read in Jeremiah chapter twenty-three and of course many other passages in Scripture. Those in high positions within this corporate church cause others to err due to their lies. This word lightness or light, as we just covered, is gaiety or indifference where seriousness and attention are called for. How often do we hear joking and jesting and the like being carried on from the pulpit? It has become a way of life in today’s apostate church. The reason being simply that today’s pastors and ministers (for the most part) have not been called of God for this high calling. A great many of them have not even experienced the miracle of becoming born-again in Christ.