The fifth angel sounds his trumpet (Rev. 9: 1-2), and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth, and to him was given the key of the abyss, and he opened the abyss, and there arose a smoke out of the pit as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. Although the supernatural darkness will affect the whole of Christendom, it would appear that its evil influence will be more specially felt in the eastern portion of the revived Roman Empire - more particularly the eastern capital of Antichrist, Babylon. In Rev. 16: 10, 11 we read that the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness, and they gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven.


There is another reference to this Divine intervention as Master of the stellar system, which is of great importance, since it reveals not only the exact portion of the sun which will be obscured, but the exact time it will last. Thus we read that when the fourth angel sounds his woe-trumpet (Rev. 8: 12) the third part of the sun was smitten and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars - so as the third part of them was darkened; and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.


The moral effect of this universal plague is indicated in connection with the outpouring of the fifth vial. For we read that the preternatural darkening of the sun will only lead the votaries of Antichrist to blaspheme the God of heaven (Rev. 16: 11). It is thus seen that, though judgment follows other judgments, and one plague only harbingers another, it will not lead men to penitence, but they will only tend - as in the case of Pharaoh - to harden their hearts, and to add to their long catalogue of sins that of blasphemy. It is well thus to learn that mere punishment cannot change the heart, but, rather that it will only intensify its rebellion - unless the Holy Spirit exert His power over the souls drugged by sin. Never was this truth more needed to be enforced than in these days.


This prophetic dislocation of the stellar system, especially of the preternatural darkness of a third part of the sun, will not occur without prior warning, or without the exercise of patience on the part of Him who wills that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. For prior to the sounding of the woe-trumpets, which will issue in these last plagues which will decimate an apostate world, we learn (Rev. 8: 1) that there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. This pre-report of the silence of the heavenly host seems to correspond with God's declaration by His amanuensis Isaiah (18: 4), I will take My rest, and I will consider in My dwelling place before the whole are cut off, so that the physical phenomena which will cause men's hearts to fail them for fear, will not occur hastily, but will rather be deferred until their penitence is hopeless.


It would appear from Zechariah that the very day that our Lord, accompanied by the saints of the first resurrection, descends upon the Mount of Olives, there will be an extraordinary lengthening of the day throughout the world. For we read (Zech. 14: 6, 7), It shall come to pass in that day that the light shall not be clear nor dark; but it shall be one day which shall be known to Jehovah, not day nor night: but it shall come to pass that at eventide it shall be light. Thus, instead of the solar light diminishing as the day closes in, it will scarcely cease its radiance even at midnight.


As this solar phenomenon will attract the attention of the whole habitable globe, it will probably be one of those predicted signs which will usher in our Lord's Second Advent. And more even than this, for it will doubtless have a potent moral influence, since (Psa. 64: 9) All men shall fear, and declare the work of God: for they shall wisely consider His doing.


Most scientists scorn these prophecies of the solar disturbances, affirming as they do not only that (2 Pet. 3: 4) all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation but that any interruption in this "reign of law" is absolutely impossible. As a general rule this is doubtless the case, but it must not be forgotten that at the predicted crisis the whole world will be in such a state of apostasy as to supersede the worship of the Most High by that of Antichrist, and this will call for the Divine intervention unless He surrendered His sovereignty over mankind. This will lead the remnant of the Jews thus to appeal to the God of their fathers (Psa. 119: 126). It is time for, Thee Lord, to work - for they have made void Thy law. In answer to this prayer, God will (Isa. 28: 21), Do His work, His strange work - and bring to pass His act, His strange act. These very words, God's strange work, imply that the novel physical phenomena are out of the usual course of nature, and that they only occur to vindicate God's sovereignty over the universe of matter. For He can Do according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay His hand.


Happily these solar dislocations will terminate at the end of the seven years reign of Antichrist, and his signal defeat by the Word of God in the valley of Jehoshaphat. This led our Lord to say (Matt. 24: 22) Except those days were shortened, there should be no flesh saved - but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. For this return to the original laws, which, by the Divine fiat, govern the physical universe, two reasons are assigned - namely, that otherwise the human race would be annihilated, and also in order that the elect, or the remnant of mankind - whether Jew or Gentile - may supply the seed who will form the nucleus of a re-peopled earth. For though there (comp. Dan. 12: 1, and Matt. 24 : 21) will be a time of trouble such as there never was since there was a nation even to that same time, yet God's people will be delivered, and not only they, but everyone that shall be found written in the book, or, in other words, that remnant of Jew and Gentile over whom Christ and His Bride, the Church, shall reign during the Millennium.


Although revelation does not supply much information respecting the sun during the Millennium, yet we are not without some glimpses of its relation to a renovated world. We read (Isa. 30 : 26), the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days - in the day when Jehovah bindeth up the breach of His people [or the Israelites] and healeth the stroke of their wound. This will doubtless not only promote the growth of the vegetable and floral kingdoms, but will be one of the agents in increasing that longevity of mankind, when, as predicted (Isa. 65: 20), he shall be regarded as a mere infant who does not exceed one hundred years at death. For science shows that light is as needful as-pure air for health.


At the first glance, however, this striking increase in the solar light and consequent heat might be regarded as a curse rather than as a blessing; seeing that when the Fourth Vial angel (Rev. 16: 8-9) pours out his vial upon the sun power was given unto him to scorch men with fire, and men were scorched with great heat. But the physical evils which would be otherwise caused by this vast increase in the light and heat of the sun will be mitigated by a cloud-canopy, which will spread its benignant influence not only over Palestine, but, we may infer, over the whole world. Hence we read (Isa. 4: 5, 6), "Jehovah will create upon every dwelling Place of Mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and a smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night - for upon all the glory shall be a covering [margin]: And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the day-time from the heat. In this way, then, will the promise of the Psalmist be literally fulfilled (Psa. 121: 6), The sun shall not smite thee by day.


As it would be impossible without another miracle for the predicted sevenfold increase of the light of the sun to be restricted to the Holy Land, it follows that the influence of the solar beams will be felt through the world. It is therefore, pleasing to know that the Gentiles will participate in the benignant effects of this cloud-canopy. For we read (Isa. 49: 6-10) that when He who is the Light of the Gentiles shall revisit this earth Neither the heat nor sun shall smite them - for He that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall He guide them.


That eminent servant of Christ, Richard Cecil, said that a Christian in a prison with his Bible could tell what is going on in the outer world. But these revelations were not given to gratify that thirst for the knowledge of the future of this world which thoughtful men in all ages have yearned to discover, but rather to stimulate and encourage the faith and Gospel labours of God's elect. For unhappily, as predicted, although the world has the same Bible as God's children (Dan. 12: 10), none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand! Above all, these revelations of the future of this world ought to incite all who grieve over the gathering gloom of our times, and the still fiercer physical and moral storms which are at hand, to echo more fervently the prayer of the exile of Patmos, in response to the last declaration of our living and ascended Lord, "Surely I come quickly Even so, come, Lord Jesus."


- The Prophetic News.