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Chapter 9

The Fifth Angel Sounds Revelation Chapter 9 continues to announce catastrophes as the fifth and sixth angels sound their trumpets. There is an important difference here however, for the plagues of the last three trumpets are identified as woes in verse 12. Moultons Analytical Greek Lexicon identifies the Greek word interpreted woe as a calamity. It is hard to escape the impression that some greater significance applies to these last three trumpets. And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto to the earth, and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit [pit of the abyss]. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. 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. 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. And it was given to them 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. And in those 110

days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and upon their heads were as were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. 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. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails:; and their power was to hurt men five months. And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon (Re. 9:1-11). The first questions that arise from this passage of scripture are: who is this that has fallen from heaven and has been given the keys to the bottomless pit (abyss), and exactly what is the abyss? There is scriptural evidence (Ro. 10:7 GNT) that the abyss is just another name for the abode of the dead, a part of hell, or Hades (Sheol in the OT). The Greek word interpreted abyss is also often interpreted as hell, and the Hebrew word Gehenna is also interpreted as hell in most versions of the bible. If the abyss is a region of hell where the dead reside, then the keys that Christ had in Revelation 1:18 undoubtedly include the key to the abyss. Another scripture pertinent to this discussion is 2 Peter 2:4, which indicates that God chained angels who sinned in the abyss. Could these fallen angels 111

take the form of locusts and emerge from their prison to attack men who do not have the seal of God in their foreheads? We note at the end of this passage that these locusts have a king over them who is the angel of the bottomless pit. Could the one who was given the keys and who opened the abyss be the same angel whose name in Greek is Apollyon, which means destroyer? The wording in the GNT for this scripture implies that this star (or angel) was originally in heaven, but at some time in the past had fallen to the earth (been cast out of heaven). Contrast this with Revelation 20:1, in which it is recorded that John saw an angel come down (descending) from heaven with the key to the abyss. There is clearly a difference in the wording describing these two angels who were given the key. The angel in Revelation 20:1 is one of Gods holy angels, for he comes from heaven with the key to the abyss, and a chain to bind Satan for a thousand years. The angel in Revelation 9:1 (above) apparently fell from heaven at some previous time, and he (or it in the GNT) receives the key while on earth. He was thus a fallen angel with considerable authority, for God identified him by name in both the Hebrew and Greek languages. It seems pretty obvious that this king in verse 11 is the star referred to in verse 1, and many expositors have proposed that this fallen angel is none other than Satan himself. He does have great authority, which makes this suggestion believable, and Satan was likened to a star falling from heaven previously in Isaiah 14:12 and Luke 10:18. There is certainly no question that this was either Satan, or one of the important fallen angels under his command. Notice that he was given the key, so we know that 112

someone with greater authority possessed the key and gave it to this fallen angel at the appropriate time. Christ had the keys of hell and Death in Revelation 1:18, so we suspect that He also held the key for the abyss. This may be further justification for assuming this angel was Satan. These locusts have been identified by some as being modern-day helicopters, and in many ways there is a strong similarity. Helicopters have wings (rotors) that make a sound that could be described as being like chariots of many horses running to battle. They also have weapons that could be compared to the sting of scorpions. They also carry armament that could be characterized as breastplates of iron. However, the description of the locusts seemingly having crowns on their heads, looking like horses, having faces of men and hair like women, and having their stings in their tails, is not descriptive of helicopters. The command that they should not hurt the grass, nor any green thing, neither any tree, does not appear to be a fitting order to a squadron of helicopters, nor does the order that they should only torment, and not kill, men that do not have the seal of God in their foreheads. Joel 2 describes a plague of locusts that precedes the day of the Lord, and Joel's description in some ways parallels that in Revelation 9:3-11. Everything considered, the information we are given here seems to better fit the description of fallen angels, freed from their prison in the abyss, and taking a visible form that appeared to John like a locust. Another important point in this scripture is the mention of the period of five months, during which the locusts were given power to hurt the men that do 113

not have the seal of God in their foreheads. This is the only specific period of time given for any of the judgments in Revelation, and it serves as a rough benchmark for the timing of the other judgments. If our timetable for Daniels 70th week, shown in Table 1, is a reasonable assessment of the sequence and timing of the apocalyptic events occurring during this period, we know that our narrative must be near the end of the great tribulation at this point. We also know that the great tribulation starts after the middle of the week, when the abomination of desolation is set in the temple. We assume that the great tribulation extends over a period of time long enough for occurrences such as martyrdom, war, fleeing of the remnant, implementation of the mark of the beast, and the first six trumpet judgments to be executed. Near the end of the great tribulation the rapture/resurrection occurs and we enter the period of time known as the great day of the Lords wrath. We know that the timing of the rapture/resurrection during the great tribulation will be shortened for the sake of the elect (Matt. 24:22), which we assume to mean that the timing of the rapture/resurrection is accelerated in order to take the saints from the earth so that some will be saved from martyrdom. Another assumption we might make is that the saints will be on earth at the time of the locusts, since they are told to harm only those that God has not marked. Assuming that a period of at least 1 1/2-years would be required for the events announced by the first five trumpets to be completed the plague of the locusts would occur about five years into the seven-year period. Since the plague of locusts lasts for five months, events subsequent to this (the last two woes and the seven 114

vials of wrath) would have to occur during the last 1 1/2 years of the sevenyear period. Revelation 9:12 indicates that the first woe is now past and there are two more woes to come hereafter. The Sixth Angel Sounds And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in [at] the great river Euphrates. 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. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat upon them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. 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. 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. And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, 115

and of wood, which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: neither repented they of their murders, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts (Re. 9:13-21). We mentioned earlier that there are men on earth who belong to God at the time of the fifth trumpet, for the locusts were prohibited from harming those who have the the seal of God on their foreheads. Since the rapture/resurrection is thought to be coincident with the last, or seventh trumpet, this should not be surprising; however, the end of the Great Tribulation is approaching, and if God is going to shorten the time to rapture/resurrection (Mt. 24:22), He is running out of time. When the sixth angel sounds four angels bound at the great river Euphrates are loosed. We need to look at Revelation 16:12 for further information about who these angels are, and what they were prepared to do. According to this verse we see that one of these angels causes the waters of the Euphrates to dry up so that the kings of the east can pass over to the battle of Armageddon. We do not know how much later the armies cross over, but it seems reasonable to assume that the time between the sounding of the sixth and seventh angel is relatively short. We are near the end of the Great Tribulation when the sixth angel sounds, and we know the rapture must occur soon (if it has not been moved to an earlier time). Following this, the seven vials of wrath must be poured out before the battle of Armageddon. As indicated above, we have surmised that the Great Tribulation ends about five-and-one-half to six years into the seven-year period. This suggests that the Great Day of the Lord's 116

Wrath must be about a year in duration. In Jewish wedding tradition, after the bridegroom and his bride have consummated the union, tradition has it that they do not part for any reason (war, etc.) for a year. If Christs taking His bride (the church) at resurrection/rapture is analogous to this, the Great Day of the Lords Wrath must be at least one year in duration, since we know that it cannot begin until the saints are removed from earth: Christ would not leave His bride to return to earth for the battle of Armageddon for at least one year. According to Genesis 15:18, the Euphrates River is the northeastern boundary of the land given to Israel by God. This is a river that northern and eastern armies would need to cross to enter into the holy land. We know that this passage is talking about the armies that are coming to make war with Christ at the battle of Armageddon. The size of the army that crosses the river is given by John to be two million. This army is described as riding on ferocious looking horses whose mouths issued forth fire, smoke, and brimstone and whose tails appear as serpents. By these three plagues (fire, smoke and brimstone) were a third of men killed. The GNT wording here seems to imply that a third of the men involved in the battle were killed, rather than a third of all men on earth, as implied by other versions of the Bible. The description of the vehicles (horses) on which this great army moves is difficult for us to relate to any military vehicle we are familiar with. The breastplates are described as being fiery, and one interpretation of the Greek word used here is glistening, which could imply some sort of windshield, but this may be a bit of a stretch. We could envision a vehicle whose firepower came from the front (mouth), and 117

whose rear also had weapons that could hurt men, but the military vehicle that comes to mind (a tank) does not seem to entirely fit the description given by John. We must remember that John is trying to describe something that is totally overwhelming to his visual senses and understanding, and even though the Lord is giving him the vision, the descriptions given in the book of Revelation must come through Johns mind and body, as influenced by the Holy Spirit. Revelation 9:20 seems to imply that if the men that remained alive after these plagues had repented of their evil works they could have received forgiveness. The wording of Revelation 9:20 in the GNT clearly states the meaning that they did not repent: And the rest of the men who were not killed by these plagues, repented not even of the works of their hands, that they should not do homage to demons . . .