In our last study , the first four trumpets killed plants, land animals, and sea life, polluted the earth’s water, and brought excessive heat and cold. While the seven seals opened the door for the worst famine, war, disease, and death to occur upon the earth, the seven trumpets reveal God’s specific actions. The seven trumpets will bring disasters unlike anything the world has ever experienced. The world will not be able to explain these events away as some natural disaster brought about by “mother nature.” The trumpet’s disasters will be so horrible and so extreme that the world will know Who has caused them.
The next two trumpets focus on the demonic world – the dark spiritual world of evil angels, which we sometimes call “spirits.” God will some day send a message to the demonic world that the end is near. The message is sent when the fifth trumpet sounds and a star falls from heaven.
And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him. (NASB) Rev. 9:1
Earlier in Revelation the term “stars” was used to refer to angels (Rev. 1:20). In Job 38:7 the word “stars” has also been used to refer to angels. So this star is also symbolic of an angel. Here we are told that the a star a) falls from heaven, and b) the key to the bottomless pit or abyss was given to “him.” Notice that the star is an intelligent being since the star is called “him” and is able to open the bottomless pit. Also note that the star did not have the key originally. He did not own the key. It was given to him for the purpose of allowing him to open the abyss.
The fact that we are told the star falls from heaven strongly suggests that the star in Rev. 9:1 is symbolic of Satan. Isaiah 14:12-15, Ezekiel 28:12-16, and Luke 10:18 reveal that as a result of Satan’s original sin he was “thrust down to Sheol.” Satan was originally an extremely beautiful cherubim who apparently covered God with his wings (Ezek. 28:14). At some point after his creation, he wanted to rule over God (Isa. 14:13). That is, Satan wanted to become a god. As a result, God could not allow Satan to live in heaven. He had to live on the earth.
How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! (NASB) Isa. 14:2
In Rev. 9:1, the phrase “had fallen” is the English translation of the perfect participle form of the Greek verb pipto. Pipto means “to fall” and since the word is a perfect participle, we should understand that the star “had already fallen and remained fallen.” That is, the star fell and remained fallen. This is a stronger indication that the star is Satan. He was thrown out of heaven and is no longer allowed to live in heaven. He may visit, but he cannot live there.
The book of Job tells us that Satan still has access to heaven (Job 1:6-7; 2:1-2), but he can only visit. Later in our study of Revelation, we will read that on some future day Satan will no longer be able to visit God in heaven (Rev. 12:7-10). The result of that event appears to be described here in this verse – “a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth.” At this same time God will allow him to inflict men and women with unusual severe suffering and pain.
When this happens, Satan will know that the end is near. But in the end, Satan will be imprisoned and suffer torment forever.
Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit. (NASB) Isa. 14:15
That day is coming and it is described in Revelation 20:10.
We are also told that Satan will be given a key to a place called “The Bottomless Pit,” and he will open it. When he opens it, he will release hordes of demons – his followers.
Revelation 12:2-4 says that one-third of the angels in heaven joined Satan when he rebelled against God. As a result, they were denied access to heaven and were forced to live on the earth too! Some of these evil angels, or demons, sinned (Gen. 6:1-4) and were imprisoned in the bottomless pit (1 Pet. 3:18-20; 2 Pet. 2:4-6; and Jude 6-7).
On one occasion when Jesus was removing some evil spirits called “Legion” from a man, the demons pleaded with Him to not send them into the abyss or the bottomless pit (Luke 8:31). They did not want to go there. 1 Peter 3:19 calls it a prison. The bottomless pit is a real place with real demons. When Satan uses the key to open the bottomless pit, these unusually wicked demons will escape. They are described as locusts in the next verse.
And he opened the bottomless pit; and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit. And out of the smoke came forth locusts upon the earth; and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power. (NASB) Rev. 9:2-3
These demons will have supernatural powers to cause great pain for men and women for five months but not to kill them. They will not be allowed to hurt or harm anyone who has the mark of God on his or her forehead.
And they were told that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months; and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a man. And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; and they will long to die and death flees from them. (NASB) Rev. 9:4-6
People who are “stung” by one of these demons will suffer for five months and their suffering will be so intense that men and women will seek death.
This reminds us of the Apostle Paul who had a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7) which God would not remove. Paul’s thorn in the flesh was a messenger from Satan – a demon. Paul says that God allowed this to prevent him from becoming proud. It was God who had caused Paul’s ministry to grow and had caused others to respect him. Paul was only God’s tool. How easy it is for us to take credit for the things which God has done through us or to value the things that God has given to us. It is easy to ignore God and value the things of this world more than God.
During the Tribulation, God will destroy the things the world values. He will destroy the plants, land animals, sea life, pollute the earth’s fresh water, and bring excessive heat and cold. He will allow men and women to be physically tormented. Life will be getting worse with each new day!
The description of these demons is difficult to understand because the Apostle John is not able to tell us exactly what he sees. Notice that he keeps using the word “like.”
And the appearance of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle; and on their heads, as it were, crowns like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. And they had hair like the hair of women, and their teeth were like the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to battle. And they have tails like scorpions, and stings; and in their tails is their power to hurt men for five months. (NASB) Rev. 9:7-10
The description of these evil spirits is horrible. These are beings who were once beautiful, holy angels; beings who once lived in heaven with God; beings who ended up in a bottomless, smoky pit, with ugly bodies. This is a good reminder of the ugliness of sin – a reminder that sin is not shades of gray. It is black!
King of the Pit
The king of the demons locked up in the abyss is called Abaddon or Apollyon.
They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon. The first woe is past; behold, two woes are still coming after these things. (NASB) Rev. 9:11-12
Since Satan is a) the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2), b) the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4), c) free to move about in this present age (1 Peter 5:8), and d) constantly seeking someone to destroy (1 Peter 5:8), Satan is free to move and do as he pleases. He is not limited by being imprisoned in the abyss – the bottomless pit. Consequently, he cannot be the king of the abyss. The king of the bottomless pit is an evil angel who serves Satan. He is the king of the demons imprisoned in the bottomless pit.
These hordes of demons will attack the people of the world. He will be like a little child with hurt feelings. This is the first “Woe” – demons unleashed! There are two more “woes” coming. The last one is the worst.
When the sixth trumpet sounds, a voice from the golden altar, which is before the throne of God the Father (Rev. 8:3), will command that four angels be released.
And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, one saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” And the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released, so that they might kill a third of mankind. (NASB) Rev. 9:13-15
These four angels are apparently demons. They are demons because God would not need to bind holy angels. Holy angels are obedient! God has used “angels” to refer to demons before in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 1:6. So this not new. The Greek word for “bound” means that these demons are currently bound or tied up near the Euphrates River. They are bound at the center of the world’s future battlefield. One day they will be freed and they will cause many to be killed (Rev. 9:18).
The next passage tells us that 200 million soldiers will became active once they are released.
And the number of the armies of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. And this is how I saw in the vision the horses and those who sat on them: the riders had breastplates the color of fire and of hyacinth and of brimstone; and the heads of the horses are like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths proceed fire and smoke and brimstone. A third of mankind was killed by these three plagues, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone, which proceeded out of their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents and have heads; and with them they do harm. (NASB) Rev. 9:16-19
The Greek word for “army” is plural. This is not one army but several armies which have come together to make war. Since the army will not come to power until the four demons are released from their bonds at the Euphrates River, it implies the demons are the leaders of these armies. This also suggests that since the leaders are demons, the 200 million army is composed of demons too! It is important to notice that both the four demons and the 200 million demons are released so that they can kill one-third of mankind. They will work together.
It does not appear that the 200 million refers to human armies which are controlled by demons. Some believe the “fire, smoke, and brimstone” refers to modern gun, tank, aircraft warfare. Some of the writers in the 1800s believed it referred to cannon fire. But the horses are described as having as heads like those of lions and tails like those of serpents. Fire, smoke, and brimstone come out of their mouths and tails. This could be modern warfare, but it does not seem likely since verses 20-21 end the chapter talking about demonic worship. Verse 18 says that the fire, smoke, and brimstone are plagues. So far only God and the demons have brought plagues to the world. Humans have not. The 200 million demons are probably a portion of those just released from the pit in verses 2-11.
How should we respond to the description of the riders and horses? It is important to remember that the horses which took Elijah to heaven in a chariot of fire were described as “horses of fire” (2 Kings 2:11). In 2 Kings 6:17 we were told that Elisha was surrounded by horses and chariots of fire. Later in Revelation 11:3-5 we will discover God’s two witnesses will be able to kill people with fire from their mouths. This is supernatural stuff. The 200 million army is supernatural. It is 200 million demons which are released upon the world to kill one-third of the men and women.
The apostle uses the word “like” to describe these demonic forces. These demons will cause three plagues: fire, brimstone, and smoke. They are real and not figurative. The world will be in flames and smoldering. The passage describes a world war in which one-third of the human race will die because of these demons.
How Will They Respond?
How will men and women respond to these trumpet disasters? We have already discovered in Revelation 7 that many will seek God and confess their sins but many more will not.
And the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts. (NASB) Rev. 9:20-21
They will not repent of their sin! The word “repent” occurs more times in the book of Revelation than in any other New Testament book. That should be a message for us. God will be calling men and women to repent of their sin and to turn to God. He is doing that now (Heb. 3:15)! Men and women will prove to God and to every other human being who has ever lived that they deserve eternal punishment by their rejection of God. God will prove that men and women would rather suffer than repent and yield to God.
God will uses these future plagues to call people to repent. Many will have sorrow because of their pain and suffering, but they will not repent. Instead, they will be angry with God. God will be looking for a broken heart that brings men and women to Himself, but they would rather suffer than yield.
For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death. (NASB) 2 Cor. 7:10
If you are currently trusting Jesus to forgive your sins, then you understand God desires to forgive our sins. He wants a relationship with us! We became Christians because we had a godly sorrow over our sinful condition and realized that Jesus wants to forgive us. As a result, we responded by trusting Jesus to forgive us.
Those who come to God must see their need to have their sins forgiven. Otherwise, why would anyone come to Him? Jesus came to forgive our sins and to have a relationship with us.
Once a person becomes a Christian, he/she still needs to confess his/her sins to keep the spiritual relationship correct with Him. Do you confess your sins daily? If so, is your confession a humble one or a ritual? God seeks a humble, repentant heart. He has promised to forgive our sins each and every day. Sin grieves Him. We can restore our relationship with Him by admitting our sins with a humility of heart. God wants a genuine relationship with you!
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (NASB) 1 John 1:9