Revelation 9 begins a new phase of God’s dealings with men. He now begins to pour out His great wrath on unrepentant sinners and Christ’s rejections. Rev. 6:17, “For the great day of His wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand.” The angel of Rev. 8:13 introduces these as “Woes.”
The Fallen Star (Revelation 9:1-12)
The Fifth Trumpet
“And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I beheld a star fall from heaven unto the earth.” The identity of this star is obscured a little in the language of our King James Version. The star is described more accurately in other translations as “fallen,” rather than “falling.” It is written in the perfect tense, which signifies an already completed action. The star had already fallen.
That this is not a literal star is obvious from the fact that “to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.” I believe that the star mentioned here is “Satan himself.” Rev. 12 describes the war in the heavens and Satan and his angels being cast upon the earth (chronologically this has already happened). So then, what we have here, at the blowing of the fifth trumpet, is Satan in possession of the key of the Abyss.
Satan and The Bottomless Pit
The key to the bottomless pit (or Abyss) really belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. See Rev. 1:18, “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” The keys of the “bottomless pit” belong to Jesus Christ, but He gives them to Satan at this time.
What is this bottomless pit? The phrase could be interpreted, “the pit of the abyss” or the “well of the abyss.” This place must be in the center of the earth and is reached through a shaft – like a mineshaft. The abyss is the abode of some of the fallen angels, too fierce to be allowed to roam the earth (at this point they are set free).
The demons free on the earth dread this place. In Luke 8:31, they besought Christ that He might not send them “out into the deep.” The demons here were pleading with the Savior not to torment them before the time - not to send them to the “bottomless pit” or “the pit of the abyss.” (Tartaros, Hades, Gehena).
Satan opens the bottomless pit. It is as if a great volcanic eruption has taken place. The sun is darkened and the smoke that comes up out of the pit pollutes the air. In Rev. 9:3, John says that the creatures released from the pit were like locusts in appearance. The description given in the following verses make them incomparable to any known species. These creatures are actually demons clothed in this form.
The locusts have a unique function (Rev 9:4). They were not to touch anything green (as was normal for locusts to do). Instead, they were to hunt men (which they normally would not do) – hunting those who did not have the seal of God. The believers on earth at this time will be exempt from this assault. These creatures were given the power to sting men with their scorpion-like tails and the pain lasted for five months (Rev. 9:5). In Rev. 9:6, we see that those stung will want to die, but death will not be possible (murder nor suicide). Rev. 9:7-9 describes these creatures – it is an eight-fold description. These creatures are monstrosities. Instead of men repenting – they seek death. The king over this demonic hunt is Satan himself (Rev. 9:11).
The Second Woe (Revelation 9:13-21)
The Sixth Trumpet
Revelation 1:13-15 - After the sixth angel had blown his trumpet, four angels who were bound in the great river Euphrates were set free. Their release turned loose a flood tide of destruction upon the earth. The question naturally arises: Who were those angels? They are the powerful emissaries of Satan, extremely evil in character. God had bound them and kept them in chains for an hour – day – month – year. Now, the time has come, making world history, for its greatest crisis hour. He sets them free and they are given power to destroy 1/3 of the remaining world’s population.
Another interesting question is: Why were these angels bound at this particular location? This is where history began – this is where it will all end. The Garden of Eden was once located in this area – this is where the sin of man began (see Gen. 2:14-15). The first murder was also committed in this area (see Gen. 4:8). This is where Nimrod lived and began his religion. The result was the building of the Tower of Babel, which brought God’s judgment upon the people. The Euphrates area has been the fountainhead of sin, rebellion, and idolatry. God will bring His judgment on this area during the tribulation. The very place where Satan’s empire began will have the judgment of God poured out upon it during the Tribulation.
The Romans, Greeks, and Babylonians always considered the Euphrates River the boundary line between the East and West. Rudy and Kipling expressed it in this way: “East is east, and West is west, and never the twain shall meet.” This has been true in world history, but during the Tribulation, there will be a full-scale invasion of the West by the Orient for the first time.
When these four wicked angels are given this liberty they will cause the greatest catastrophe in history to fall on the human race - 1/3 part will be slain. Now, notice the progression in the intensity of God’s judgments. When the fourth seal was opened, the rider on the pale horse was given power to destroy ¼ of the human race (Rev. 6). This is the day Russia, Egypt, and their allies will die. In Rev. 8 a third part of the various elements of creation was destroyed, but not man. In the judgment of the fifth trumpet, men were tormented by demons for five months, but they were not killed (Rev. 9:5 - Demon possession). Now, with the blowing of the sixth trumpet, one third of the remaining world’s population will be slain.
The Great Army
Revelation 9:16-21 - 200 million strong - the troops will be from the East. As for the conditions, the river Euphrates will be dried up (see Rev. 9:12-16). Rev. 9:17-19 describes this huge army. A little bit of sanctified imagination would lead us to believe that this is a description of the equipment of a modern army, including thermonuclear weapons. Rev. 9:18 says that 1/3 of the world’s population are slain by fire, smoke, and brimstone. All three of these elements are present in modern warfare. Fire from atomic explosions – smoke – immense clouds of radioactive fallout – brimstone is simply melted earth and building materials. [Describe briefly the battle that will take place. See Zech. 12:1-9, “He will cut them in pieces.”]