Category Archives: REVELATION 9 Part 1

The fifth trumpet-judgement

REVELATION 9 Part 1

REVELATION 9 Part 1

Survey of the chapter
The chapter gives details of the events brought about by the sounding of the fifth and sixth trumpet, and presents to us the horrifying things that are to take place on the earth as God judges men for their wickedness.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION CHAPTER 9, VERSES 1 TO 11:

9:1  And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
9:2  And he opened the bottomless pit; 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.
9:3  And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
9:4  And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
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.
9:6  And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
9:7  And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.
9:8  And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.
9:9  And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.
9:10  And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.
9:11  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.

9:1  And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.

And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth- in the previous chapter the star that fell was described as a lamp, alerting us to the fact that it was not an angel.  Here it is different, for the word star is not qualified at all, and represents a bright angel of God, sent on a solemn mission.  There are those who believe that this star is Satan, of whom the Lord Jesus said, “I beheld Satan fall as lightning from heaven”, Luke 10:18, and that this is the event spoken of in that saying.  But it seems unlikely that the enemy of God would be given any part in His dealings in judgement.  It would be very unsafe to give him the key to anything, knowing how evil and treacherous he is. 
And to him was given the key of the bottomless pit- we should not confuse the bottomless pit with hell, which in the Old Testament is sheol, and in the New Testament hades.  That is the place of departed souls, and is in the heart of the earth.  The bottomless pit is situated beneath the abyss, or the depths of the ocean.  Since we are thinking of the abode of spirits the idea of dimensions is not relevant, for spirits do not take up any space!  The idea is of unlimited capacity.  When the Lord cast out the demons from the man of Gadara, they besought Him that He would not command them to go out into the deep, or abyss, Luke 8:31.  It is the abode of fallen angels, the ones that Peter and Jude speak about.  “For…God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgement”, 2 Peter 2:3.  “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgement of the great day”, Jude 6.  The word translated “hell” that Peter uses is Tartarus, so is not the regular word for hell. 

9:2  And he opened the bottomless pit; 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.

And he opened the bottomless pit– the fact that the angel came down from heaven with a key shows he had authority from God to open the pit, and the fact that he needed a key showed that it was a prison.  Jude tells us of everlasting chains, Jude 6, but here there is a temporary release of at least some of them, to judge men upon the earth.  It is appropriate that these should be the agents of God’s judgement, for the Lord Jesus likened the days we are thinking of to the days of Noah, Matthew 24:37,38.
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- the Lord Jesus taught that there is everlasting fire reserved for the devil and his angels, Matthew 25:41, and those who die unrepentant shall share their doom.  At present, however, it is only the spirits who rebelled against God by co-habiting with the daughters of men that are in prison there, 1 Peter 3:19. 

9:3  And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth- what a terrifying prospect, spirit-forces let loose on the earth as demon-locusts!  Literal locusts are a scourge in the Middle East and Africa, with huge swarms devouring everything in their path.  As the prophet Joel said, “the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them”, Joel 2:3.  If this was true of normal locusts, how much more so with demon-locusts.  That these locusts are not normal insects is seen by the following:
1.    Locusts do not come out of the bottomless pit.
2.    Locusts do not sting, as these locusts do.
3.    Locusts have no king, Proverbs 30:27, but these do, verse 11.
4.    The king over these locusts is a fallen angel, verse 11, so they must likewise be fallen angels.
5.    The locust plague that came into Egypt was never to be repeated in its severity, Exodus 10:14, for we read there, “very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such”.
And unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power- that they were given this power shows that God is totally in control of the situation. The sting of the scorpion is very powerful, and the pain caused is excruciating.  They were to torment men, so that they might have a foretaste of the terrors of the Lake of Fire, and be caused to repent.  At the present time it is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance, Romans 2:4, but when the age of grace has run its course, God will send terror upon men, to see if they will repent.

9:4  And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.

And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree- this confirms that they are strictly controlled by God.  He does not even delegate the commands to these locusts to the angel.  As they were not ordinary locusts, they are not going to harm the things that locusts normally harm.
But only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads- some see this as referring to the rest of the nation of Israel that are not sealed with God’s seal in chapter 7.  But there will be a remnant of the nation who are believers, and who will be terribly persecuted in those times, and we do not read that they have the seal of God.  The point is that by the time we have reached this stage in the tribulation, the Antichrist will have achieved world-wide dominance, and to avoid persecution his mark will have to be on the forehead, 13:16.  Those with that seal are certainly not sealed of God as His own.  They are the ones who are targeted by this judgement.

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.

And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months- we read of the beast and the false prophet, that after a thousand years they are still in the Lake of Fire, for it burneth for ever and ever.  So here, those who are attacked by these demon-hosts are not killed, to put them out of their misery, but are preserved to suffer torment.  The word torment is used of the Lake of Fire, Revelation 20:10, and this is a foretaste.
The average length of the life of a locust is five months, and here we are again reminded that God has the whole matter under His control, for just as He limits the life-span of the ordinary locust, He also limits the time during which these operate.  The Lake of Fire is for ever and ever, but this terror is designed to cause men to repent, and thus escape its torments.
And their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man- by all accounts the pain inflicted by a scorpion is terrible, and is a reminder that in the Lake of Fire there shall be “weeping and gnashing of teeth”, Matthew 25:30.

9:6  And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.

And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them- the Lord Jesus warned that in Gehenna, another name for the Lake of Fire, “their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched”, Mark 9:44.  There is no respite from the suffering for the whole of eternity.  If any should be reading these lines who have not God’s salvation, then we urge you to seek it as a matter of urgency.  Read Romans chapters 1 to 3.
Normally, men do all they can to keep alive, and only in dire circumstances do they consider suicide.  These will seek for relief in death, but will not find it, again, an evidence of God’s mercy, so that every opportunity to repent may be given them.

9:7  And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.

And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle- everything about these beings was designed to bring terror.  Horses prepared to battle represent an ominous sight.  Huge creatures trained for warfare.  Man has been at war with God for six thousand years, but now God is at war with men.
And on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men- they had the symbol upon them that they would win the day, that their conquest of men would be successful.  And they were not unintelligent brute creatures, but had the faces of men, the sure sign that they knew what they were doing. 

9:8  And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.

And they had hair as the hair of women- their long streaming hair as the hair of wild women possessed of the devil, would strike terror into the heart. 
And their teeth were as the teeth of lions- this is enough in itself to strike terror into the souls of men, with demon-lions baring their teeth, ready to pounce on their prey.

9:9  And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.

And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron- it will not be possible for men to rid themselves of these terrible creatures, for they are able to withstand the war-machine of mere men, for these are spirit-beings, who will not succumb to physical onslaughts. 
And the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle- Ezekiel describes the sound of the wings of the cherubim as “the sound of a host”, Ezekiel 1:24, and these are the same.  The roar as they make their rapid advance, (running to battle), will strike terror into men.

9:10  And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.

And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails- the tails of scorpions arch over their back, so that they sting as they move forward.  Their sting is noted for the intensity of the pain it causes.  So there will be the combination of the sight and sound of these creatures, striking terror into men as a swarm of locusts does, and the pain of their sting. 
And their power was to hurt men five months- despite being fallen angels, and therefore part of Satan’s domain, these, (and their king, verse 11), are strictly controlled by God, and their power is only theirs because He has given it, and He has limited the time of their use of it.  They hurt men severely, but do not kill them.

9:11  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.

And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit- as noted, ordinary locusts have no king, for they simply swarm in a seemingly uncontrolled mass.  These are different, for they have an angel controlling them.  As already noted, the fact that he is an angel shows that these locusts over whom he is king are likewise fallen angels.
Whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon- these two titles both mean “Destroyer”, or “Destruction”.  There is no reason to think that this is a reference to Satan, for he is not confined to the bottomless pit until 20:1,2.  He is not, in fact, confined at all, but is the prince of the power of the air, Ephesians 2:2.  Satan is not King of Hell, nor is there any reason to think that he has ever been there.  But he will be confined there for one thousand years, and then, after being freed for a short season, will be cast into the Lake of Fire, otherwise known as Gehenna.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: A consideration of the place of departed souls.
Points to bear in mind:
1.   Man is a tri-partite being, for in the beginning “the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul”, Genesis 2:7.  This is confirmed in 1 Corinthians 15:45,47, “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam was made a living soul’…the first man is of the earth earthy”.  So Paul tells us that the man whom God formed in Genesis 2 on the sixth day of creation week, was the Adam we know.
So man has a body, (in the case of us today through procreation, not formation), has a spirit, and not only has a soul, but by the combination of the spirit and the body, is a living soul, a person, a self-conscious human being.

2.   When he dies, man’s spirit returns to God, awaiting the resurrection day.  Scripture says, after describing the ageing process, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return to God that gave it”, Ecclesiastes 12:7.  This is true of all men, believers and unbelievers alike.  God is called “the God of the spirits of all flesh”, Numbers 16:22.  Since this is so, the soul and the spirit cannot be identical, nor can they be inseparable, for if the soul goes where the spirit goes, then no souls go to sheol or hades. 

3.   In Old Testament times, the souls of men went to Sheol, which is translated “grave” 31 times, “hell” 31 times, and “pit” 3 times.  The word “grave” always has the definite article before it, except in Hosea 13:14 where it has the word “O” before it.  So, for instance, Jacob said “For I will go down into the grave to my son mourning”.  But Jacob did not believe Joseph had a grave in the sense of a burial place in the earth, for he thought he had been torn in pieces by a wild beast.  But he was still going to the grave to his son, for to Jacob the grave, meaning in his case a sepulchre, was simply the entrance to the grave, meaning the place of departed souls, the place where his son was.

4.   David was confident that through the mercy of God he had been delivered from the lowest hell, for he wrote, “For great is Thy mercy towards me: and Thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell”, Psalm 86:13. This supports the idea that hell has at least two compartments, with the righteous dead going to the upper part, and the unrighteous dead to the lower part, which would correspond to the pit to which Korah went, Numbers 16:33.
Now whilst David was confident that his soul would not go to the lowest place it is possible for a man’s soul to go, this does not mean there is nothing lower.  In fact, God said, “For a fire is kindled in Mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell”, Deuteronomy 32:22.  This suggests that there is a place lower than where man’s soul can go. 

5.   When the psalmist was considering the fact that God is everywhere, he wrote, “If I ascend up to heaven, Thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there”, Psalm 139:8.  Something of the psalmist’s surprise that the latter statement is true is seen in the word “behold”.  We learn that it is possible for God to be in hell without being compromised.  Since the Lord Jesus is equal with God, then it is also possible for Him to go the place where the souls of the righteous dead are without compromise also, for that place is not of punishment but of rest. 
6.  Ephesians 4 is dealing with the fact that Christ fills all things, Ephesians 4:10.  The argument of the apostle is that the Lord Jesus must make His presence felt in all parts of the universe so that it can  be said of Him that he fills all things.  In other words there is no room in the whole of God’s universe for a competitor.  He has gone into heaven to assert that, and He went into the lower parts of the earth to assert His rights in that place too.
When He was prophesying His death, the Lord said, “for as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”, Matthew 12:40.  By no stretch of the imagination can it be said that a sepulchre is in the heart of the earth.  It must refers to Christ’s soul, and corresponds to the lower parts of the earth the apostle Paul wrote of in Ephesians 4:9.  Notice he did not write “lowest parts of the earth”, but “lower”, for Christ did not need to go the place of torment, the lowest part of the earth to which human souls can go, for Him to have asserted, in principle, His resurrection rights there. 

7.   When he was referring to the judgement of the angels that sinned by leaving their first estate and taking wives of the daughters of men, Peter writes that “God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgement”, 2 Peter 2:4.  And Jude speaks likewise, “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgement of the great day”, Jude 6. 
Now when Peter wrote “cast them down to hell”, he was using a Greek verb, tartaroo, meaning to “thrust down to Tartarus”.  This would correspond to the “lowest pit”, or “the bottomless pit”, the place reserved for those who rebelled against God so daringly in Genesis chapter 6.  It is not safe for these to be allowed to roam the earth, so they are imprisoned.  We see now why it is necessary for an angel to come down from heaven to unlock the doors of this place, so that, in a way that God closely controls, they may be God’s judgement on men for a strictly limited period.
At the end of the Tribulation period, Satan will join them, as Revelation 20:1,2 indicates.  Meanwhile Satan, and the hosts of evil angels that rebelled with him at the beginning, are able to roam the earth, as Job 1:7 and 1 Peter 5:8 make clear.