SUMMARY OF CHAPTER 9
Here John sees two more trumpet judgments, and they are the release of Satan and many demons. They are allowed to exercise so much power and take possession of those who reject God. They are large in number like an army, and they will cause a great deal of distress unlike the world has ever seen.
1 And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key of the shaft of the bottomless pit;
This is where Satan is released from his restraint in order to deceive the nations. The bottomless pit is figurative speech for not being allowed to exercise his full power, in which Satan was limited to during the Church Age from the time of Christ’s first coming to the short period of tribulation before the second coming of Christ. But now starting with the 5th trumpet Satan is allowed to exercise his full power (see Rev. 20:7-10). The fallen star from heaven is the same angel that bound Satan in Rev. 20:1. The binding of the Devil was seen in the 3rd seal in chapter 6:5-6, now we see their release here in the 5th trumpet.
Bede: the fifth, the greater hostility of heretics, the precursors of the time of Antichrist;
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 power like the power of scorpions of the earth; 4 they were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green growth or any tree, but only those of mankind who have not the seal of God upon 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 a man.
The language used here is figurative for Satan and the demons being set loose in full strength to deceive nations and take possession (demonic possession) of those who reject the Lord, but without killing them. But the demons are unable to take possession of the saints who have the seal of the Holy Spirit. “Thefive months of their torture means the shortness of time that the Lord mentions in the Gospels, “And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened (Matt. 24:22).”
6 And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death will fly from them.
This indicates the misery and frustration of being controlled by demonic forces.
7 In appearance the locusts were like horses arrayed 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, and stings, and their power of hurting men for five months lies in their tails.
Even though St. John is using human language to try to describe something spiritual, the appearance of the demons must be horrific!
11 They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon.
This is Satan.
12 The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come.
We are going to see in the following verses the 6th trumpet being blow, but the seventh trumpet is not until chapter 11:15, and it is the proclamation that the Judgment and resurrection has just taken place at the opening of the 7th trumpet
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.” 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 mankind.
These angels are probably demons since the text says they were bound. Demons have been bound to various places such as the bottomless pit (Lk. 8:31) and swine (Matt. 8:31), so that they await there until the final judgment. These demons have been kept at the Euphrates in order to be used as tools for judgment.
Bede: the sixth, the open war of Antichrist and his own against the Church, and the destruction of the same enemy interposed by a recapitulation from the advent of the Lord;
Andrew and Oecumenius
16 The number of the troops of cavalry was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; 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 sulphur, and the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulphur issued from their mouths. 18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulphur issuing from their mouths. 19 For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails; their tails are like serpents, with heads, and by means of them they wound.
The troops and the horses are probably different ranks of demons. Again, St. John is using human language to explain something that is spiritual (see vv. 9:7-10). Spiritual forces have been described like this in 2Kings, “Then Elisha prayed, and said, “O LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha (6:17).”
20 The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshipping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot either see or hear or walk; 21 nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their immorality or their thefts.
Some people are so hardhearted that the worst of conditions and circumstances will not lead them to repentance.