The other day I introduced a series examining the LORD’S “Four Sore Judgments.” (Links just above). In other translations they are called the “LORD’S Four Severe Judgments.” They’re mentioned in Ezekiel 14:21: “For thus says the Lord God: How much more when I send upon Jerusalem my four disastrous acts of judgment, sword, famine, wild beasts, and pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast!”
The four are Sword, Famine, Pestilence, and Beasts. Wesley’s notes says, “How much more – If they could not be able to keep off one of the four, how much less would they be able to keep off all four, when I commission them all to go at once.”
It is a very dread situation when all four are unleashed. If you read Revelation 6, you will see that the four are unleashed all at once, or in very rapid succession. Jesus called it the worst time on earth there ever has been or ever will be. (Matthew 24:21; also Rev 6).
We looked at the correlation between Sword (war), famine, and disease. Now we will take a look at the biblical judgment of Beasts.
|Vision of Death, Gustave Dore, 1865|
“When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.” (Revelation 6:7-8)
The Greek word for “beasts” is just that, the generic term always used for ‘wild animal.’ I’ve written about Death by Beasts before, here.
While we have always had war, famines and epidemic diseases, death by beasts is more unusual. Let’s look at man’s relationship to beasts since the beginning, through the flood to afterwards up through the Tribulation and ending at the Millennium.
When Adam was created, one of the jobs God gave him to do is name all the beasts of the earth. (Genesis 2:19-20). At that time before the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden, the beasts were friendly and herbivorous. (Genesis 1:29-30). Man was still sovereign over them, but it was not a bloody relationship.
After the fall, they became meat for humans. The Flood came. After the flood waters receded, the relationship between man and beasts changed once again. God put the fear and dread of man into them. (Genesis 9:2).
In the Millennium kingdom, He will reverse that curse and all will be reverted back to the original state of peaceful co-existence. Children can put their hand into a snake’s hole and not be bitten. The wolf will lay down with lamb, and the lion shall be tame. (Isaiah 11:6-9).
| Elisha and the boys in Bethel,
Matthaeus Merian the Elder, 1625
But before that, between the receded Flood waters and the peace of the Millennium, it seems that there will come another change of the relationship between man and beast, though this once is more implicit rather than stated. It will occur in the Tribulation. It seems that in the Tribulation, the Lord will (perhaps) have removed the fear and dread of man from the wild animals. I can’t point to a specific scripture that tells this explicitly, but implicitly I gather than the progression of man’s relationship with beasts changes from a contentious one as it is now, but with their fear removed. If a quarter of the world dies by the aforementioned plagues and one of them is beasts, it seems that there will be a lot of hunting going on- and not just man upon beast, but beast upon man.
Today, if a beast does become a “man-killer” it has to be killed. God said in Genesis 9:5 that even from the beasts he will require capital punishment. In Exodus 21:28 we read that if an ox gores a man the animal is to be killed and its flesh not eaten. But if the animal is previously in the habit of goring and the owner is warned, and the animals kills a man or woman, then the animal AND the owner are to be killed. (Exodus 21:29)
Did you ever wonder why the animals that could do us the most harm don’t simply hunt us down and eat us, like, all the time? But they don’t. When I was in Big Bend National Park in SW Texas, hiking in the Chisos Mountains, Rangers told us if we come upon a mountain lion to stand tall, and throw stones at it. The lion would leave us alone. LOL, I’m glad we never had to test that, but the methodology is that the lion would see you as a bigger threat and leave.
Even today if a wild animal kills a man, the Rangers, or zookeepers, or whoever, usually kills that animal. In most cases the Ranger is not responding explicitly to God’s instructions laid down in Exodus 21, but they instinctively are. If an animals kills a person, it means they have lost the fear and dread and is all the more dangerous to humans.
In the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend a couple of months ago, the Austin newspaper reported, there had been a mountain lion attack. The people chased it off by throwing a backpack at it. However, the report made this particular family who camped there the day after the attack hyper-aware. They decided to stay in the lodge instead of the tent, and when they went to the restaurant for dinner from the lodge room, they held their child’s hand, one parent on either side. They walked on the lit walkway between the two populated buildings. However, the lion attacked the boy anyway, dragging him away from his parents to a nearby bush. The parents then attacked the lion! The boy is chewed up a little, but he is OK. Rangers said it was highly unusual for a mountain lion to attack on the pavement between populated buildings. If the animal was caught, they said, it would be killed. Above, me in the Chisos Mountains 17 years ago.
War brings famine to animals, too. Their natural habitats are disrupted, and food gets hard to find. The stress often leaves them no choice but to start looking at humans as food, and attacks increase. That would seem to be a normal outcome of the other sore judgment: famine.
John MacArthur preached on the Revelation 6:7-8 verse here. He preached in part-
“…The most deadly creature on the face of the earth? Not a snake, not a lion, not an alligator. A rat. Historically the deadliest creature on the face of the earth. Why? Rats are annually responsible for the loss of billions of dollars of food in America alone and death all over the world. Rats infested with Bubonic Plague killed one third of the population of Europe in the fourteenth century, that’s Encyclopedia Americana’s own figure. Rats can carry as many as thirty-five diseases at once and amazingly if ninety-five percent of the rat population is exterminated in the given area, it will replace itself in less than a year. It has killed more people than all the wars of history and it always makes its home where men dwell.”
Death by rats is certainly a likely possibility. More than likely, given the history cited above which bears this out.
Remember “Snowpocalypse” of winter 2011? Cities all along the US Eastern seaboard were inundated with snow. Mountains of it fell, stilling whole cities like NY for days. As a result of the paralysis, garbage piled up. People still generated trash, but the streets were too clogged for garbage trucks to make their way on their routes. And the landfills and parking lots of the garbage scows were too full of snow to unload the garbage anyway, even if it was picked up.
The following article reports on that situation in February 2011: “A suicidal man plummeted nine stories and survived in midtown Sunday when he landed on a mountain of trash that had piled up since last week’s blizzard, officials said.”
Look how much garbage there is left over from a week later…
Trash did pile up to shoulder heights. On January 6, 2011, Letterman on The Late Show was more graphic about the rat situation:
“New York’s just beginning to dig out of the garbage backlog from the Dec. 27 snowstorm. Two kids, all bundled up, are building a garbage man outside. I hope they’ve had all their vaccinations! And with so much garbage, the rats are crazy. And I don’t want to alarm you, but honest to God, we’re knee deep in rats now with the garbage. Fortunately the city has hired an additional cat.”
You can imagine the rats bringing a killing disease after the catastrophic events of Revelation 6 that are prophesied to occur before the Fourth Seal is opened. So, death by beasts could be the plagues that rats bring.
But I think it is more that that.
I’ve been noticing over the last two years particularly that wild animals have been acting strangely.
Shark attacks are up. This summer Myrtle Beach SC has struggled with an unusual number of shark bites upon people who were not far offshore at all. There was a spate of weird fox attacks in Britain a while back. Foxes entered homes to attack babies. In April 2012, a ferret jumped into a baby’s stroller and attacked her, the Daily Mail reports. It it took two firefighters 25 minutes to fight it off! Reports of a monkey stealing a baby from the living room. There is no fear of humans inside an animal when it boldly enters a dwelling where humans are present!
Moreover, these are not isolated incidents. Incidents like these are occurring every day in a number of animals, in highly populated areas. Remember the fisher sightings spike in Boston? The bear that entered a well-populated, campfire-lit campground and dragged a girl by her head? The mountain lion stalking and prowling at the Denver bus terminal? The 40-ton whale that leaped onto a passing yacht, snapping its mast? All within the last couple of years and all stated to be unusual for that local area. Just today, NY Daily News reports that black widow spiders are invading NY. The exterminators say Black Widows in NY are rare.
As with any sign or symptom of the culture, ONE event does not mean Tribulation is imminent. But I detect a pattern. Animal attacks are up. Second, the attacks were unusual (no rabies, populated areas, never before happened in that location, the time of day, etc). I mean, we can rule out the rabies-incited attacks, and all attacks that were warranted (like the guy who climbed into spider monkey enclosure to play with them and got mauled). Last, the attacks perplex the scientists. Usually the scientists will say that habitat stresses cause the animal to behave in unusual ways, which is certainly true.
So when you have a pattern of non-rabies attacks occurring inside homes where humans dwell, brazen attacks that happen out of the blue with no provocation, happening increasingly over several years, not anomalies, then I think it is safe to say that perhaps God is lifting His hand and the fear and dread of man in the animals is decreasing.
Back to the four sore judgments. Yes, each one is bad enough, but how bad will it be when all four are unleashed at once? Terrible! Fortunately in His mercy, He made a way for His beloved sheep to escape all these things. SALVATION in the Church Age, AKA Age of Grace. Judgments in the Tribulation will be delivered “to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity…” as Daniel hears in his vision in chapter 9, verse 24. He learns why the LORD will send the Tribulation judgments: to finish allowing sin to complete itself.
We are sinners, whose rightful place is hell after death, to be punished for our sin-crimes against God. If we ask the Lord to forgive those sins before our death, understanding Him as Lord and Savior, who came to earth to live the sinless life so He could be the perfect atonement, slain for our iniquities, and was accepted by God of that sacrifice and brought out of death to eternal life, then we will not be in the Tribulation when the whole earth will be judged for their sins. Our sins will have been pardoned, so He will sweep us up to heaven in our glorified bodies and allow us to be in His presence forever!!!
Do not put off your repentance. Intending to repent still means you are still as much an enemy of God as the fist-shaking atheist. Alternately, believe this:
How much better will it be when He calls His sheep home to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in perfect New Jerusalem by the living waters and the street of gold?!! Don’t you want to be there, your sins pardoned and forgotten? Putting off repenting means you choose the Four Sore Judgments. How? If you are not for Him, you are against Him. (Matthew 12:30). Personally, I have found a multitude of peace and blessings in living FOR Him. I hope you will think about it. But not for too long… OK?