Revelation 9 - Outline of Revelation (Book Notes menu page)
Trumpet judgments #1 - 4 (in ch. 8) describe (in 1 or 2 verses each) catastrophes which are primarily physical. The three "Woes" (the last three Trumpets) open new dimensions of sorrows. The lengthy explanations suggest the greater importance of these later judgments.
9:1 And the fifth angel sounded,
and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth:
a star fall {ie., which had fallen} - The perfect tense indicates completed action.
This star, unlike that of 8:10, is not a physical star, but an angelic being.
  • Referred to as a person ('him... he').
  • He is given authority (the key).
  • He acts with intelligence (v.2, 'he opened'...)
Who is this?
     Satan, the Dragon. Luke 10:18; Isa 14:12-17; Rev 12:7-9
and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
key- speaks of authority (cp. 1:18)
Who gives Satan this authority?
Christ, because all power is His. cp. Mat 28:18
Why? Because men worship demons, rather than God (v.20),
the Lord will give them demons to the full.
cp. The plagues of Egypt which dealt with their gods (eg., the Nile, frogs, lice, flies, sun...).
the bottomless pit - The two words have distinct and combined significance.
  • bottomless {GK= 'abussos', ('a'= without, 'bussos'= depth) - "the abyss," "the (immeasurable) deep."
    In v.11, 'abussos' is by itself. Translated 'bottomless pit' in the KJV, it is lit., 'the abyss.'
  • pit {GK= 'phrear'. well, pit, shaft}
    Twice in v.2, the word 'phrear' {pit, shaft} stands alone.
  • Combined ('bottomless pit', twice in v.1,2),
    the two words, together, refer to 'the shaft of the abyss.'
    As a mine shaft provides access to a mine, so this is apparently the door to the abyss.
What is the abyss? - The word is used of:
  • The place where fallen angels (demons) are bound (Luk 8:30,31, where 'the deep' is 'the abyss').
  • The place of the dead (when Christ died, He descended into this place, releasing the spirits of dead saints who were held captive, and taking them with Him when He arose). Rom 10:7; Eph 4:8-10
  • The place where Satan will be bound for 1000 years, at Christ's return. Rev 20:1-3
9:2 And he opened the bottomless pit {ie., the shaft of the abyss};
and there arose a smoke out of the pit
{ie., the shaft}, as the smoke of a great furnace;
and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit
{ie., the shaft}.
Satan opens the door to the abyss releasing:
smoke- cp. 14:11; 19:3 "the smoke of their torment ascends up for ever..."
The dense smoke gives evidence that the demons & the wicked dead are bound in torment even while awaiting the final Judgment. Luk 16:23,24,28; Mat 8:29
As the pent up smoke of ages enters earth's atmosphere,
Mankind - gets a whiff of "the place prepared for the devil & his angels" (Mat 25:41).
Mankind - comes under a foreshadow of the darkness of the abyss.
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.
locusts- Recalls the 8th plague on Egypt. Ex 10:12-15
But these are not ordinary locusts:
  • Their plague is worse than that of Egypt (which was the worst of natural locust plagues. cp. Ex 10:14)
  • They eat no vegetation (v.4).
  • They are intelligent: responding to a command to hurt, or, to hurt not.
  • They have a sting like scorpions.
  • They have a king (v.11) whereas natural locusts do not. Prov 30:27
These are demons who have been bound, but are now loosed temporarily. 2Pet 2:4; Jude 1:6
hurt... only those men which have not the seal of God...-
  • The 144,000 Jewish witnesses (7:3,4) will be protected, just as Israel was protected during the plagues upon Egypt. What was the Lord's purpose in those plagues? That Israelites and Egyptians "shall know that I am the LORD." Ex 6:7; 7:5.
  • Unsaved men receive a foretaste of the sting of death and the torment of the abyss.
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.
Christ has the keys of death & hades (1:18).
  • Trumpets #1-4 show that man is not self-sufficient to sustain his life.
    Here, we see that man does not have authority to end his own life either.
  • Unsaved men receive a foretaste of the torment that will not end. cp. Mark 9:43,44
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.
This is apparently a literal description of the appearance of demons.
Locusts look somewhat like horses.
[eg., the German word= heupferd, hay horse; the Italian= cavaletta, little horse]
Some of the terms also speak of their powers/abilities which differentiate them from natural locusts. Eg.:
-- faces of men- they are intelligent & willful,
-- teeth of lions- they are ferocious & destructive.
Joel ch. 1 compares the Syrian invasion of Israel to a plague of locusts.
Joel 2:1-11 looks beyond that local event to the Day of the Lord.
The language here is similar and speaks of the forces of darkness which assemble against the Lord and His army (at Armageddon).
five months- The duration of the fifth Trumpet judgment (the first Woe) is stated.
The duration of the other judgments (Seals, Trumpets, and Bowls) is not specified. However, the duration of the seventh Trumpet (the third Woe) may be inferred from its associated parenthetic text (cp. 11:2,15; 12:6,14; 13:5).
9:11 And they had a king over them,
[which is] the angel of the bottomless pit
{ie., the abyss},
the angel- identical with the fallen star of v.1.
a king- the one with authority over the abyss and its occupants (by the key given to him, v.1).
This is Satan, the prince of the demons. Mat 12:24-26
whose name in the Hebrew tongue [is] Abaddon, {lit., "destruction"}
but in the Greek tongue hath [his] name Apollyon. {lit., "destroyer"}
At this point, Satan is using demons to inflict pain & destruction upon men.
Soon, he will give his power to the Beast, who will carry on this role (13:2).
Satan, who mascarades as an angel of light, will abandon his mask. cp. Isa 14:16,17
When his identity and intent are out in the open, will mankind continue clinging to the Deceiver and follow him into eternal destruction?
9:12 One woe is past;
[and], behold, there come two woes more hereafter.
The "Woes" are not simultaneous, but progress one after another.
The first Woe lasts at least 5 months. (v.10)
The second Woe is not said to be past until 11:14.
This plague is the broadest thus far. Its agents include demons, angels and men.
9:13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice
from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,
This voice is either the angel with the censer (cp. 8:3), or Christ who is the mediator of our prayers (as symbolized by the golden altar of incense), and the One with authority to judge (as the voice looses further judgment).
In either case, here is a reminder that these judgments are in answer to the prayers of the martyred saints for vengeance (6:9,10).
9:14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet,
Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
four angels-
These are not to be confused with the 4 angels of ch. 7, who were good, withholding evil.
  • Good angels would not be bound. cp. 2Pet 2:4; Jude 1:6.
  • These 4 angels are evil and have been withheld from perpetrating their destruction, until this time.
  • The garden of Eden, at the headwaters of the Euphrates river (Gen 2:10,14), was the site of Satan's temptation and of man's fall.
  • The region saw the first murder, the first war, the preparation for the Flood, and the tower of Babel.
  • It was to Babylon that Judah was carried captive.
  • Here also will be a center of false religion in the Last Days (Zech 5:11).
9:15 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.
-- were prepared (and continue in a state of readiness),
-- for a specific point in time (lit., "the hour, day, month, and year...")
These angels are instrumental in preparing "the way of the kings of the east... to gather them to the great day of God Almighty" (the final battle of Armageddon, Rev 16:12-16).
     This army will "trouble" Antichrist near the end of his brief enthronement in Jerusalem (Dan 11:44), but will soon join forces with him against Christ at His return (Rev 19:19). Apparently, the aggressive westward advance of this army begins with the sixth Trumpet (just prior to the Tribulation mid-point, v.13-f), but does not actually cross the Euphrates until the sixth Bowl judgment, near the end of the Tribulation (16:12).
9:16 And the number of the army of the horsemen [were] two hundred thousand thousand:
and I heard the number of them.
John verifies that 200 million is not a mistake.
Some have doubted that such a large army could exist. But years ago, China claimed an army of this size. ["Time Magazine", May 21, 1965, pg. 35]
9:17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them,
having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone:
[probably descriptive of colors] firey red, dull dark blue, and yellow
and the heads of the horses [were] as the heads of lions;
and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.
Some think these "horses" are hideous demonic creatures.
Others see a description of modern warfare with tanks or similar vehicles
(fire, smoke, and brimstone referring to the discharge of weapons).
9:18 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.
9:19 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.
Deadly "smoke" may suggest chemical weapons.
Fire & brimstone may suggest both conventional weapons and tactical nuclear weapons.
The damaging power which issues from 'mouths' and 'tails' aptly describes artillery on armored vehicles.
     One quarter of earth's population perished following the 4th Seal (6:7,8).
As this army makes its westward advance, a third of those remaining die at their hands. Less than half, of the population alive at the start of the Tribulation, will have survived by the time this army joins the battle of Armageddon. (Probably far fewer remain, since several plagues were said to be deadly, but included no accounting of the slain... nor, of Christ's innumerable martyrs.)
9:20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues
yet repented not of the works of their hands,
repented not- They did not change their minds about worth-ship.
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:
They ascribe true value to the things which they have made.
They ascribe truth to the doctrines of demons. 1Tim 4:1
[Man's arrogance is evident in his lyrics. Eg., "We built this city... on rock and roll..."]
9:21 Neither repented they of their murders, {cp. 6:9}
nor of their sorceries,
sorceries- GK= pharmakeion.
Drugs were key to a sorcerer's power over his clients. Mind altering substances obviously contribute to moral degeneracy and complacency of the populace. But other types of pharmaceuticals may also play an important role in the deception perpetrated on the people by ungodly leaders (cp. 18:23).
nor of their fornication,
This may include sexual sins, and also the spiritual adultery of serving false gods.
nor of their thefts.
thefts {lit., "things stolen"}...
...perhaps from those they murdered, or perhaps via financial fraud.
Listed above (in v.20,21) are the "values" of the Antichrist's followers.
They cling to these even as the living God gives them a preview of hell.
Antichrist comes on the scene "with all deceivableness of unrighteousness" to those who "receive not the love of the truth." Rejection of the Gospel opens one to error, whether it be: the cults of today, or, the Lie of tomorrow. cp. 2Thes 2:8-12; Rom 1:28-32

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