In our on-going study through the book of Revelation we have come to the 9th chapter. Here we see the trumpet judgments continuing to be unleashed on the earth. The fifth angel is about to sound his trumpet. Someone might ask, “Pastor Kevin, I thought you believed in a pre-tribulation rapture of the Church.” I certainly do. “Then why talk about the judgments of the Tribulation if the Church won’t be here?” The answer to that question is two-fold: 1) God included these events in His Word, so they must be important. If in fact, and this is the case, ALL scripture is God-breathed and therefore profitable to the man (or woman) of God [See 2 Tim. 3:16], then it certainly behooves us to study the prophetic Word as we do all the scriptures; especially given the fact that a full 1/3 of the Bible is prophetic in nature. 2) Those who do not receive Christ as Savior prior to the rapture of the Church will be left on this earth to experience the awful events of the Great Tribulation. Friend, you shouldn’t wish the Great Tribulation on your worst enemy, much less your friends and family. We therefore study this portion of God’s Word so that we can sound the alarm as faithful watchmen on the wall.
John writes in 9:1, And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. are a couple of things to note here. First, this “star” is not a star as we normally think of such. This is not a planetary body, nor a mass of space matter. This “star” is a fallen angel, most likely Satan himself. This is not the first time in the Word where angels are referred to in the imagery of “stars.” Job 38:7says, When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? “Morning stars” in this verse speaks of angels. We see another instance where angels are referred to as, “stars” in Revelation 12:4, And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth. [Rev. 12:4aKJV] This refers back to the rebellion of Lucifer when at sometime in the dateless past he led a revolt against Heaven and against the very Throne of God. We aren’t told a great deal about the fall of Lucifer. In fact, only two chapters in scripture deal with it. We read of this happening in Isaiah 14and Ezekiel 28, and we get a short glimpse of it in Revelation 12as well. If you have ever heard a Bible teacher refer to a third of the angelic host rebelling with Lucifer, this is where that information comes from. Then of course the imagery of a fallen angel referred to as a “star” is found right here in Revelation 9:1as well.
Some commentators see this “star” as Christ because we read in Revelation 1:18, I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.[Rev. 1:18KJV] However, it should be noted that Jesus in 1:18has the keys, He is in possession of them. He won them by conquest when He spoiled principalities and powers, and made a public spectacle of them on the Cross. [See Col. 2:15] He wouldn’t need to be giventhe keys, because He already hasthem! This “star” however has to be given the keys. He is given the key of the bottomless pit. This is literally, “The Pit of the abyss.” “Bottomless” is, Abussosand it appears seven times in Revelation. It always refers to the place of incarcerated demons [9:2, 11; 11:7; 17:8]. Satan himself, in fact, will be held prisoner here during the 1,000 year reign of Christ, locked up with the other demonic prisoners. [See Rev. 20:1, 3]
Think with me for a moment. If Jesus has the keys to death and Hell, and He does; then it is our Lord who will give the key to the pit of the Abyss to Satan. Why would Jesus give the key to him? First, because it will the time to. This will be the point, at the very end of the first three and one-half years of the Tribulation, for these events to transpire. Second, Satan is the only one who couldopen the pit as he is, according to verse 11, the “king” of the bottomless pit. Thirdly, this key apparently wouldn’t fit anything else, so why not give it to Satan at this time? We need to remember that Satan may be a “mad dog”, but he is a mad dog on a leash! What does that mean? It means that the enemy cannot bring anything against a child of God, nor do anything really in the earth realm, unless he is permittedto do so. He may be roaming around seeking whom he may devour, but he does have limitations. An example of this is 1 Corinthians 10:13, There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.He is limited in his attacks to the realm of that which is commonto man. In other words, he can’t reach out into the realm of the supernatural and bring something against you that no one else has ever experienced or dealt with. That is really comforting, or at least it should be to us.
As we read of these events that will unfold during the Tribulation, it should be noted that our Sovereign God will be superintending it all. He will be orchestrating that which is occurring. What about now? As we look around us it would appear that this earth is spinning out of control with increasing social unrest, wars and rumors of war, earthquakes and subsequent tsunamis and volcanic activity, weird weather patterns, and the rest. If God is orchestrating all of this now it certainly doesn’t appear that He is. Is God “running the show”, as it were, right now? Make no mistake about it, The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. [Ps. 24:1 KJV] , is He orchestrating world events right now? While my dear Calvinist brethren would answer this question, yes; I would add a bit of a caveat. We know from scripture that Satan is the god of this present world system. [See 2 Cor. 4:4] He received this title back in the Garden when Adam abdicated his God-given responsibility over the earth. Since then, Satan has been managing the earth, as it were. We live in a world that was just as much affected by the Fall as was man. Consider the following from Romans 8,
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but on account of Him who subjected it in hope; because even the creation itself shall be freed from the slavery of corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that all the creation groans together and labors in birth together until now. [Rom. 8:20 – 22 ] This passage tells us that all of creation was subjected to corruption as a result of the fall of man. When sin entered the earth realm everything was affected, both objects animate and inanimate, all fell under the bondage of corruption. It has been said that natures song is in the minor key, longing for the idyllic state that existed prior to the fall. Thank God, in the Kingdom Age, and on into the Perfect Age to come this will be the case. For now however we live in a world under the curse, laboring under sin’s dread sway. While God maintains ownership of the Earth by virtue of creation, I submit to you that He is not the events of Earth beyond His Sovereign boundaries that He has set for Satan and his angels.
John continues, 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. [Rev. 9:2KJV] It needs to be understood that this “pit” is an actual place that is in existence today, and has been for many thousands of years, perhaps longer. “Smoke” can refer to holy things, as it does in 8:4and 15:8, however it typically is associated with judgment [9:17, 18; 14:11; 18:9, 18; 19:3]. I believe that this will be literal smoke. The word “furnace” indicates that there is fire in this place. As this smoke bellows out there is so much of it that the air and the sun darkened as the corruption of hell pollutes the earth, primarily in the area of the Mediterranean, but it affects will no doubt be world wide. It turns out that the affect of the smoke will be nothing compared to what comes out of the smoke. As the next verse continues,
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 to them it was given 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 days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. [Rev. 9:3 – 6KJV] It needs to be remembered that John is seeing these things while, “In the Spirit.” What does that mean? We read in Revelation 1:10, I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet. The Expositor’s New Testamentsays concerning the phrase, “In the Spirit”, “He entered into a new kind of experience relative to the Spirit’s control over him.” The Believer’s Bible Commentarysays John was, “walking in unclouded fellowship with Him and thus in a position to receive divine communications.” I like Jameison, Fausset, and Brownhere, “in a state of ecstasy; the outer world being shut out, and the inner and higher life or spirit being taken full possession of by God’s Spirit, so that an immediate connection with the invisible world is established.” This “connection” with the invisible world is what I want you to see. John was seeing things that occur in the realm of the Spirit, that affect and influence the events on the earth. We certainly see an example of this right here.
We are told that “locusts” come out of the smoke onto the earth. These are no ordinary Middle East locusts. These are demon locusts, if you will. These are spirits from the pit who take on the form of locusts. They don’t function like any normal locusts. For example, they eat no grass, vegetables, or trees as ordinary locusts would . According to Verse 11, they have a “king” over them, ordinary locusts do not. [See Prov. 30:27] There are several other reasons why we know that these are no ordinary locusts, suffice it for these two to illustrate for lack of space. These locusts are most likely fallen angels of some variety who have been imprisoned in the bottomless pit since their fall, (described in Gen. 6). These wicked beings, who have been chained in darkness for all of these many centuries (See 2 Pet. 2:4), can hardly wait to begin their acts of evil. Again, they are told what they can and cannot do. Remember that John is seeing things that are occurring in the spirit realm. I personally do not believe that these creatures will be visible to the naked eye. Their affects certainly will be seen (and felt), the beings themselves will not.
Notice their appearance, And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it 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. Please keep in mind that the Holy Spirit is allowing John to give an approximate representation of what these creature looked like and the devastation they cause, as he uses the word, “like” some eight times in this passage. Based on John’s description we know that they will be war-like, powerful, and defiant, like horses straining at the bit and pawing the ground in their eagerness to charge forward on their mission of death. On their heads John sees what appears to be crowns of gold. These are victor’s crowns, indicating that this demon horde will be invincible. People will have no weapon that can harm them, and their will be no cure for the torment they inflict. Their faces like men seem to indicate that they are rational beings, and not merely insects. Their hair is described as being like that of women, possibly speaking of their seductive nature.
Further, their teeth are like lions, they will be fierce and powerful, tearing apart their victims. They have breastplates of iron, designed to protect the vital organs of the soldier, here it symbolizes the demon hordes invulnerability. John compares the sound of their wings, “As the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.” Their simply will be no escaping their massive, worldwide onslaught. The threefold comparison of the demons to scorpions stresses their sole mission is to hurt people. What a vivid description the Holy Spirit through the Apostle John gives us! What an awful time this will be on the earth, in reality defying description.
We will have more to share next time.