Revelation 9 (NRSV)
And the fifth angel blew his trumpet,
This is the fifth angel that sounded a trumpet. There were seven seals, followed – thematically if not chronologically – by seven trumpets. In their arranged order, they are similar.
The first four seals and trumpets presented judgments directed against the earth. In the first four seals, these were the “four horsemen” bringing tyranny, war, famine, and death on the earth. In the first four trumpets, these were the ecological destruction of the vegetation, seas, fresh waters, and sky.
The last three seals focused upon heaven: the cry of the martyrs, cosmic disturbances, and the heavenly prelude to the seven trumpets. The last three trumpets will speak of hell, in terms of the demonic.
–David Guzik (and all comments in red)
and I saw a star that had fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit;
A star that had fallen: One of the fallen angels? Satan himself? Someone else entirely? Opinions vary.
And from your friendly English teacher! — The falling of the star and its trail of destruction are recorded in the English word disaster, aster being the Latin word for star. A disaster is a fallen star.
2 he opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. 3 Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given authority like the authority of scorpions of the earth.
“A visual representation of the hordes of demons loosed upon the earth.”
–John F. Walvoord
4 They were told not to damage the grass of the earth or any green growth or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 They were allowed to torture them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torture was like the torture of a scorpion when it stings someone. 6 And in those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will flee from them.
Their purpose and period is expressly governed by God, to bring repentance (see verses 20-21). Death will offer no escape from this prolonged torture. Their power is described like the power of scorpions, and the bite of a scorpion, though extremely painful, is rarely fatal.
7 In appearance the locusts were like horses equipped for battle. On their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, 8 their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth; 9 they had scales like iron breastplates, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle. 10 They have tails like scorpions, with stingers, and in their tails is their power to harm people for five months.
“There can be no specific answer to the question of exactly who or what is symbolized by the plague of locusts. All we can know for sure is that in the period immediately before the end the wicked will be subjected to a time of unprecedented demonic torment. Exactly how this will take place will remain unknown until disclosed by history itself.”
–Robert H. Mounce
11 They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon (meaning Destruction), and in Greek he is called Apollyon (meaning Destroyer).
Their king: One of the fallen angels? Satan himself? Someone else entirely? Opinions vary.
12 The first woe has passed. There are still two woes to come.
13 Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, 14 saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”
These angels were connected with the Euphrates River because the Euphrates was a landmark of ancient Babylon. It was the frontier of Israel’s land as fully promised by God (Genesis 15:17-21). It was also the boundary of the old Roman Empire, which will be revived under the Antichrist.
The Euphrates is also associated with the first sin (Genesis 2:10-14), the first murder (Genesis 4:16), the first organized revolt against God (Genesis 11:1-9), the first war confederation (Genesis 14:1), and the first dictatorship (Genesis 10:8-10).
15 So the four angels were released, who had been held ready for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, to kill a third of humankind. 16 The number of the troops of cavalry was two hundred million; I heard their number. 17 And this was how I saw the horses in my vision: the riders wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur; the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. 18 By these three plagues a third of humankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. 19 For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails; their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they inflict harm.
This is a powerful picture of horror, destruction, and demonic association.
20 The rest of humankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands or give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk. 21 And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their fornication or their thefts.
Almost hard to believe — but it was business as usual for those who remained.
Amid all these awful images of a dark future, there is one thing to remember, and HERE it is in a song by Point of Grace, an all-female contemporary Christian music group. We can face what is coming in our lives unafraid, for “Jesus Will Still Be There.”