Revelation commentary: chapter 9 - fifth trumpet brings first woe

by Don Koenig

 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.

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.

The fifth angel sounds his trumpet and a star falls from heaven. This star has the key to the bottomless pit. Stars sometimes have a double reference to angelic beings in the scriptures. This star is called "him" so it is an angel. The angel was given the key to open up the place under the earth where fallen angels are bound (2 Pe: 2 1-10). Some think this angel is Satan and others think it is another angel. I think this angel still has the key when he locks Satan in the bottomless pit for a thousand years after the tribulation is over (Rev 20:1-2). Therefore, the angel is from God and is not Satan.

It is too soon for Satan to be cast out of heaven permanently since the Beast he incarnates when he is cast out of heaven comes out of the pit months after the time of this fifth trumpet. The Beast comes out of the pit just prior to the seventh trumpet just before he kills the two prophets who have completed their 1,260-day testimony (Rev 11:7).

If this was actually the time when Satan and his angels were cast out of heaven by Michael and his angels there should be a description of more than one star falling from heaven. This angel appears to be on an assignment and does not appear to be an angel being banished from heaven.

Although it is clear that this star is a personality, I do not think we can say that the comet had nothing to do with opening the pit in a physical sense. Physical and spiritual events can be interrelated. Mankind being limited to four dimensions cannot understand the mystery of how the physical and the spiritual are interrelated (Mat 16:19, Mat 18:18). These physical judgments on earth are the end result of spiritual prayers. We read in the last chapter that a censor containing the prayers of the saints was filled with fire by an angel. This angel cast the censor upon the earth and then these physical judgments came.  

When the comet hits the earth it will penetrate the crust of the earth and open the bottomless pit. We see this physically happens on earth by the description of the great smoke that comes out of the pit that darkens the skies. The opening of the bottomless pit provides a way out for devils or demons that have been bound in the pit (by gravitational forces perhaps?).

 

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.

The bottomless pit is opened and tormentors come on the earth. Their satanic role probably is to make life on earth so unbearable that a counterfeit savior will be accepted. Out of the smoke of the pit comes a strange type of locust upon the earth. These locusts have power like scorpions. What these beings are is not certain and I have no natural explanation. The stinging locusts last on the earth for five months. We can be sure they are demonic beings because they come out of the bottomless pit and we are told that they will have a demonic king ruling over them.

 

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.

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.

These locusts were commanded by God not to hurt anything green so these are not  normal locusts or any natural mutation. They sting only those who do not have the seal of God in their foreheads. The 144,000 most likely are not the only ones sealed. Those who believe and follow Jesus may also be sealed since they are also servants of God. Scripture does not tell us that believers will be sealed but I see no reason for God to let believers to be tormented by demonic beings. The fact that they are commanded and cannot harm those sealed by God say that these beings are intelligent and have no choice but to obey spiritual authority given to the angels of God.

These locusts will not be given power to kill anyone but they will have the power to torment unsealed people for five months. Some make this judgment a result of nuclear warfare. They claim that this judgment is talking about radioactive poisoning but many who suffer this do die. It is obvious from the description of these locusts that this is not what is being described. Some say that they are spiritual demons that torment man mentally but passages that follow indicate that these beings have physical form. The scorpion sting is said to be the most painful of all stings. Those on earth who are not sealed have this type of pain to look forward to for five long months.

 

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.

This is going to be so bad that people will seek death but they will not find it. Why man cannot find death is unknown but God gives and takes life. Perhaps, because the pit of hell is opened, no one can die and go there until after the five months is up. It may be 5 months of the real Night of Living Dead for people on earth.

God, for His own reasons is not allowing any unsealed person to escape this torment. I think this is the ultimate tough love program. I believe God is allowing demons to give men of flesh a five month taste of the Lake of Fire. It is given in love so they will choose not to go there for eternity when they later are required to make a choice between taking the mark of the Beast and going to this place of torments for eternity or choosing God's Son and losing their physical lives so their soul will be saved from it. All mankind will still have another chance to come to Jesus and not choose to go to the place of eternal torments.

 

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.

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

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.

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

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.

This passage gives the actual physical description of these creatures. They are not like anything we know. They are not helicopters or jets shooting missiles filled with chemical or biological weapons as some have speculated. These creatures come out of the smoke of the pit and the angel of the bottomless pit is ruling over them. This is not Satan because Satan at this point has not yet been cast out of heaven.

The king over these beings is named Abaddon. The name Abaddon actually means the destroyer. These locusts are led by the destroying angel who is probably Satan's commander of the dimension called the underworld. These locusts are actual physical beings that ascend out of the same pit the angel in verse two opened with his key. The five months of this torment will be a literal hell on earth.

 

12 One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.

After the five months of torment by these hellish creatures, one woe is past but there are still two more left to come when the sixth and seventh angels sound their trumpets.

 

13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,

14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.

15 And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.

16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.

After the sixth trumpet blast, four angels are loosed that are bound in the Euphrates River. This prophecy gives the number of the horsemen (cavalry men) that will now be allowed to pass to the east of the Euphrates to kill one third of men. The number John said he heard was two hundred million. There never was a time when such an army was possible before this generation.

Today such an army could come from the East; there are now more than three billion people east of the Euphrates River. The CIA fact book of the year 2004 said that China alone has more than two hundred million military fit men.

Abortion and infanticide of female children in China and India in this generation will create a disposable surplus of over one hundred million adult men who will have no chance for marriage and a normal family life. To a lesser extent for much the same reason there will also be surpluses of men in other countries of the Far East. It is as if these men were born for a special time to fulfill this prophecy. That is exactly what the wording of this passage implies. There will be almost enough adult men to make up this army from just the surplus males of military age that will exist in China and other Far-East nations by 2035 AD.

Some commentators think that this is an army of demons. In all cases, demons seek to possess bodies so a reasonable compromise is that two hundred million demons will come out of the pit and possess, and control this two hundred million-man army. This army will cross the Euphrates and come into the Middle East and the West. This army will kill one third of all men that survived the previous disasters on the earth. By the time the prior judgments and this second woe is completed over half of the world's population will be dead.

Some commentators are hung up on the word horsemen thinking that all the men would have to be riding horses. Since these believe it is not possible to assemble two hundred million horses, they dredge up demons that look like men on horses. More likely, the wording simply means the leaders are mounted on horses or the men travel on something mobile (i.e. military vehicles).

 17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.

18 By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.

19 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.

The description in this passage is probably only supernatural in the sense that angels were loosed for a specific time to allow this to happen and that demons are now free to deceive and inhabit those who dwell on the earth. The entire wording of this judgment makes it fairly clear to me that this is describing a great all out world war between the West and the East.

The fire that comes out of the mouths of the horsemen is every modern weapon of warfare like tanks, and artillery. The tails like serpents that had heads that did harm sound exactly like modern rockets and bombs with warheads. This will be an all out world war using nuclear, chemical and biological warfare and billions will die.

 

20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:

21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.

Even after mankind uses all the weapons of warfare they made with their own hands against one another they still will not repent of the works of their hands. Instead of trusting in God to save them, they trust and worship the created instead of the Creator. Most of the East will still pray to statues that represent Buddha or countless other demon gods. Instead of obeying God's servants on earth, they will follow doctrines given by demons. Instead of coming to God to be changed and to be given a new heart they will continue in their insane practices. Instead of worshiping the God of heaven, they will now worship the image of the Beast possessed by Satan.

Because the world did not want to believe the truth, they will now be given a lie and they will accept Satan's counterfeit savior and his counterfeit kingdom (2Th 2:11). This deception happens because these still love to murder, use drugs, commit adultery and steal. They love evil and that is why they will not receive the truth and be saved.

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