Each time I learn of yet another crime by wealthy men who steel from those who have not, morally bankrupt men who serve a false god, I think of this verse in Isaiah:
Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!
So too the lawlessness of those who allegedly govern, brings this verse to mind:
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
The most daunting word announces these ungodly acts, the wrathful, ‘woe’. In many Bible verses, it is a prophecy from the throne of God, announcing judgment to come.
Jesus exclaims ‘woe’ seven times in Matthew 23, the most uttered in one chapter. It is a condemnation against church leaders. It seems judgment is most excessive for shepherds who corrupt the sheep and withhold salvation from them.
27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! (I recommend you read the whole chapter)
WHAT IS “WOE”?
The Greek root of “woe”, ouai, is an interjection of grief or denunciation. It signifies impending doom, condemnation, the wrath of God, and indicates the verse that follows is of utmost importance. We must study the woes from the throne (not the lamentations), for in them may be irreversible outcomes. These woes may reach beyond our understanding.
Perhaps the most frightening use of woes are uttered by a heavenly angel three times in Revelation 8:13.
And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
The three woes announce these individual woes:
REVELATION 9:11 – The First Woe : worst fallen angels rise up from the bottomless pit
11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.
12 One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.
REVELATION 9:13 – The Second Woe : Great earthquake in Jerusalem
13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
REVELATION 12:12 – The Third Woe : Satan’s jealous wrath against all mankind
Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
When ‘woe’ is repeated three times in a row, the message is extreme condemnation. These are woes from the throne of God. There is no more severe exclamation in the Bible than the three woes of Revelation 8 and the seven woes reserved for corrupt shepherds in Matthew 23. Yet, there is one more ‘woe’ that is seldom mentioned.
WOE PROPHECY ON UNITED STATES:
This passage has been identified by many scholars pointing to the united states for America. Contrary to popular misconception America is in the Bible. Sadly, it begins with yet another ‘woe.’
Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia:
2 That sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters, saying, Go, ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled!
WOE PROPHECY ON JUDAS:
Woe is such a severe condemnation evidenced by its association with Judas, a judgment without redemption:
MATTHEW 26: 23-24
And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It had been good for that man if he had not been born.
Clearly ‘woe’ is extreme condemnation; but, it is prophetic, describing the ungodly, their ungodly deeds and their ungodly rewards to come.
Yet, God commands before the final ‘woe’, “Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them.”