Section: Chapter Eight - Seventh Seal Events [Trumpet Judgments 1-4]
NINE - COMPLETION OF 70TH WEEK
[Trumpet Judgments 5-6]
And the fifth angel sounded,
and I saw (1) a star from heaven (2) which had fallen to the earth;
and (3) the key of the bottomless pit was given to him.
1. A star from heaven =
is a supernatural being. To him indicates person-hood. In as
much as this star is "from heaven," we can conclude that
is an angelic being.
2. Which had fallen to
the earth = describes the state of this angel. The tense of the verbal
indicates that John did not see the angel falling, but saw it after
it had already fallen. When the angel fell is not indicated. Who is
this fallen angel? Theologically, fallen angels represent evil
angelic beings. "Fallen angels" as a descriptive title has
more extra-biblical support than biblical support. In Luke 10:18,
Jesus does see Satan falling from heaven. However, here "fallen"
is a part of the metaphor of "a fallen star." Therefore,
no theological point is made. Rather, This is another angel that has
come down to earth on a divine mission. Johns description is
apocalyptic in nature and should not be taken to mean anything else.
3. The key of the bottomless
pit = refers to a very important biblical concept. The term "bottomless,"
which is a transliteration of abussos (abyss), occurs nine
times in the New Testament, seven of them in the Revelation. It refers
to a place of confinement of supernatural beings. The first occurrence
of this term in the New Testament relates to Jesus miraculous deliverance
of a demon possessed man that lived in a local graveyard. Significantly,
prior to their departure from the Gadarian demoniac, the demons requested
of Christ that He not "command them to depart into the abyss
(Luke 8:31)." Matthews account of this same incident adds
the detail, "
Have You come here to torment us before the
time (Matt 8:29)?" Clearly the abyss and the time of
torment are connected. That the demons are aware of a future time
when they will be assigned to the abyss is clear. Equally, the abyss
will be a place of torment for demons. Revelation 20:3 locates the
time of confinement of demons to coincide with the millennial reign
of Christ. It also indicates that Satan will also occupy this place
for 1000 years. The 1000-year imprisonment of Satan will not be a
simple restriction of movement.
Revelation 11:7 and 17:8
indicate that the beast that kills Gods two prophetic witnesses
and persecutes the people of God during the end times also "ascends
from the bottomless pit." Revelation 9:1-11 describes a locusts
plague that is connected with the bottomless pit. Thus, in the NT
the "abyss" is connected with supernatural beings.
Pit is the NASBs
translation of the Greek term phrear. This word is used three
times outside the Revelation. Luke 14:5 and John 4:11-12 refers to
a well from which water is drawn. The NIV uses the term shaft
as a translation of phrear. Contextually, this makes better
sense. A key to the shaft of the abyss is a literal translation
And (1) he opened the bottomless
pit; and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace;
and (2) the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit.
1. He opened the bottomless
pit = or more literally, he opened the shaft of the abyss.
This is the purpose of the angels possession of the key. Since
this pit is the imprisoning chamber of supernatural powers, earth
is safe as long as the pit is locked.
2. The sun and the air
were darkened by the smoke of the pit = this phrase serves to indicate
that the opening of the pit results in a tremendous unleashing of
And (1) out of the smoke
came forth locusts upon the earth; and (2) power was given to them,
(3) as the scorpions of the earth have power.
1. Out of the smoke came
forth locusts = indicates the purpose of the smoke released from the
pit. The onset of a locusts plague usually involved a darkening
of the sky by the locusts as they approached. The uniqueness and purpose
of these locusts necessitates an answer concerning their origin. They
will be unlike any locusts the world has ever seen. They are not natural
to this earth. Therefore, they come from the smoke.
Locusts have a long and
rich tradition in Scripture. However, Revelation 9:11 reports that
these locusts have "as king over them, the angel of the abyss."
This along with the description that follows supports the conclusion
that these are not real locusts. Whether the locust-like creatures
were actually in the pit cannot be dogmatically affirmed.
2. Power was given to them
= the term power is literally authority.
3. As the scorpions of
the earth have power = As indicates that a comparison is intended
here. The horrible locust-like creatures have authority just like
the authority scorpions have. That said, however, we are challenged
to understand what John means. Scorpions have the ability to sting,
which results in extreme pain and possibly death. This type of ability
is not normally referred to as authority. Yet, this is Johns
meaning here. As the God given ability of the scorpion is to hurt,
so will be the authority of the horrible locust-like creatures from
(1) And they were told (2)
that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing,
nor any tree, but (3) only the men who do not have the seal of God on
1. And they were told =
indicates intelligence beyond that of mere locusts. Who tells the
locust-like creatures what they are to do is not explicitly stated.
Scholars are apt to opine that this is an example of a passive
of divine activity. That is, the author has deliberately gone
out of his way to avoid the direct mention of Gods name in the
activity described. We shall speak to this issue a bit later. However,
Revelation 9:11 states that the locusts have a king over them. Logically,
their king commands them concerning who to hurt and who not to hurt.
The angelic king receives instructions from God.
2. That they should not
hurt the grass
nor any tree = defines a limitation
placed on the locust-like-creatures. Locusts plagues are notorious
for destroying grass, green things and trees. However, the job of
the locust-like-creatures is to hurt men. Since the first four trumpets
focused on nature, the final three trumpets will focus on humanity
3. Only the men who do
not have the seal of God on their foreheads = additionally defines
the limitations placed on the locust-like-creatures. This confirms
that the purpose of the sealing of the 144,000 physical descendants
of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was one of protection. Thus, the rest
of humanity (both Jews and Gentiles) will suffer the pain inflicted
by the locust-like-creatures. This argues strongly against identifying
the 144,000 as believers. That God would only protect some believers
and not other believers does not seem to accord with the context here.
And (1) they were not permitted
to kill anyone, but (2) to torment for five months; and their torment
was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a man. And in those
days (3) men will seek death and will not find it, and they will long
to die and death flees from them.
1. They were not permitted
to kill anyone = continues the limitations placed on the locust-like-creatures.
Unlike a true scorpions sting, which can lead to death, the
locust-like-creatures are only able to inflict pain.
2. To torment for five
months = is the ultimate purpose of the locust-like-creatures. To
torment literally means, "to punish by physical torment."
Interestingly, this is the same word used by the legion of demons
in Matthew 8:29 to Jesus. This is clearly divine judgment. Most scholars
are of the opinion that "five months" should not be taken
literally. However, the fact that not one of the seals or the bowls
has such a limitation argues that this time limit should be taken
literally. The severity of this particular trumpet judgment also argues
for a literal interpretation.
3. Men will seek death
= describes the response of those stung by the locust-like-creatures.
This again is poetic justice. They killed others, but they themselves
are denied death. The righteous died, but did not want to. The wicked
want to die, but cannot. Note the irony!
This also argues against
the notion that those stung are believers. Revelation 9:20-21 lists
those who were stung. There is no indication that the unrepentant
are true believers. Conversely, the list signals unbelief.
And (1) the appearance of
the locusts was like horses prepared for battle; and (2) on their heads,
as it were, crowns like gold, and (3) their faces were like the faces
1. The appearance of the
locusts was like horses prepared for battle = is the first of ten
characteristics John will give the reader. Unfortunately, we are at
a loss to explain some of his references. We cannot be sure of what
aspect of "horses prepared for battle" John is referring
to here. Perhaps, the idea is that of horses lined up across the horizon
just prior to the charge into battle.
2. On their heads, as it
were, crowns like gold = is the second descriptive characteristic
John gives of the locust-like-creatures. The crowns are not literal
gold crowns, but give the appearance as gold. Perhaps, they shine
3. Their faces were like
the faces of men = is the third in a series of ten descriptive characteristics.
The locust-like-creatures have both the characteristics of animals
And (1) they had hair like
the hair of women, and (2) their teeth were like the teeth of
1. They had hair like the
hair of women = continues the descriptive portrait. Perhaps, Johns
point here is the length of hair on these creatures.
2. Their teeth were like
the teeth of lions = focuses attention on the destructive capabilities
of these creatures. It is the sting of these creatures that man will
fear, however, their appearance is not encouraging. These creatures
have the ability to kill, but they are not permitted to do so.
And (1) they had breastplates
like breastplates of iron; and (2) the sound of their wings was like
the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to battle.
1. They had breastplates
like breastplates of iron = is perhaps a reference back to the animal-like
characteristics. As horses prepared for battle, these creatures have
a covering across their chest.
2. The sound of their wings
was like the sound of chariots = continues John focus on the tremendous
number of these creatures. Every intent is taken to terrorize mankind.
And (1) they have tails like
scorpions, and stings; and (2) in their tails is their power to hurt
men for five months.
1. They have tails like
scorpions = is probably a focus on the shape of the locusts
2. In their tails is their
power to hurt men = is again a focus on their authority.
(1) They have as king over
them, (2) the angel of the abyss; (3) his name in Hebrew is Abaddon,
and (4) in the Greek he has the name Apollyon.
1. They have as king over
them = suggests that these locusts have order and purpose. The appellation
king is interesting. Scripture never accords such a title to
Satan, himself. However, these creatures have a unique purpose and
as such are required a strict discipline, which perhaps explains their
need for a king. Proverbs 30:27 states "The locusts have no king
However, no contradiction exists here because these horrible locusts-like
creatures only appear as locusts.
2. The angel of the abyss
= is identified as king over the horrible locust-like-creatures. The
exact identity of this angel is not certain. The particular grammatical
construction (Genitive of subordination) here indicates that this
angel is over the bottomless pit. It does not say that the angel is
from the bottomless pit.
3. His name in Hebrew is
Abaddon = contains two important ideas. First, the phrase "in
Hebrew" is a unique Johannine expression (Rev 16:16, John 5:2;
19:13, 17, 20; 20:6). That some of Johns readers are intended
to be of Jewish background is clear. Abaddon has a rich tradition
in the Old Testament Scriptures. It is used as the name of the place
of the dead in Proverbs 15:11, Job 26:6, and Psalms 88:11. It is also
used as a poetic parallel to Sheol in Job 15:11 and Proverbs 15:11;
to death in Job 28:22; and to the grave in Psalms 88:11.
Interestingly, the LXX
translates the Hebrew term abaddon with the Greek term apoleia
(destruction). The apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 labels the
Man of Lawlessness (Antichrist) as "the son of destruction (abaddon)."
The Lord Jesus indicates that Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, was
"the son of predition (abaddon)" in fulfillment of
It is altogether unclear
who this angel is. Scripture does not explicitly state that the "angel"
who fell from heaven and the "angel" over the abyss are
the same. However, there is no contextual reason why they cannot be
the same individuals.
The name of this angelic
leader is Abaddon (Hebrew = Destruction) and Apollyon (Greek = Destroyer).
There is no biblical basis for assigning this angelic being the same
identification as Satan as some commentators attempt to do. The Hebrew
term Abaddon is used to refer to the realm of the dead (Prov
15:11; Job 26:6; Ps 88:11). It is the place of destruction.
This is the only place
in Scripture that a particular angel is explicitly identified by the
name Destruction or Destroyer, but we discern his presence
in Scripture. 1 Corinthians 10:8-10 states, "Nor let us tempt
Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents;
nor murmur, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed by the
destroyer" (italics added). The murmuring event Paul is referencing
occurs in Numbers 14 in connection with the report of the twelve spies.
The death of the ten "unbelievers" is credited to "the
destroyer." Hebrews 11:28 also reports that "the destroyer"
(Masculine participle) was responsible for the death of the first
born in Egypt just prior to the Exodus (Ex 12:23). As in Numbers 14,
where the plague led by the destroyer accomplished Gods punishment
of the wicked so in Revelation 9 the locusts plague led by the destroyer
will accomplish Gods punishment of the wicked.
4. In the Greek he has
the name Apollyon = attests to the fact that John also intends a Greek
audience among his readers. Apollyon comes from a Greek verb
(apollunai), which mean, "to destroy." This is the destroyer.
Not Satan, but an angelic lieutenant committed to the task of destruction
of Gods enemies.
Given the description of
the locusts that occurs in Revelation 9:7-10:
And the shape of the
locusts was like horses prepared for battle; and on their heads
were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the
faces of men. They had hair like womens hair, and their teeth
were like lions teeth. And they had breastplates like breastplates
or iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots
with many horses running into battle. They had tails like scorpions,
and there were stings in their tails. And their power was to hurt
men five months.
and the fact that an angel
leads them (Rev 9:11), some interpreters are inclined to see demonic
figures represented here. However, this is highly unlikely. Revelation
9:20 declares, "But the rest of mankind, who were not killed
by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that
they should not worship demons
." It is inconceivable that
people would be continuing to worship demons if demons are in fact
the perpetrators of trumpets 5 and 6 given the horrible nature of
Equally, since trumpet
five is the wrath of God it is difficult to see God using demonic
forces to accomplish His punishment of the wicked. Many commentators
associate the horrible locust-like-creatures with demons because of
their appearance. However, this is unjustified.
(1) The first woe is past;
behold, two woes are still coming (2) after these things.
1. The first woe is past
= designates an essential structural indicator for the whole book
of Revelation. See the Introduction
for a detailed discussion of this point.
2. After these things =
that John places this structural indicator at this point and introduces
what follows as the result of the sixth trumpet should settle any
debate that the fifth and sixth trumpets are two different events.
This critical structural
mark should settle the debate about the structure of the book of Revelation.
Chronology and sequence is mandated.
And the sixth angel sounded,
and (1) 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, (2)
"release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates."
1. I heard a voice from
the four horns of the golden alter which is before God = is limiting
in its focus. It does not refer to God since the voice is "before
God." Who or what speaks is not clearly indicated.
2. Release the four angels
who are bound at the great river Euphrates = is a difficult phrase.
Just who "the four angels" are is not certain. Four angels
were identified in Revelation 7:1. However, these four angels are
bound, which indicate a different set of angels.
And the four angels, (1)
who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were
released, (2) so that they might kill a third of mankind.
1. Who had been prepared
for the hour
and year = clearly emphasizes
the predetermined will of God. God placed these angels in confinement
for a specific purpose, which has come due.
This powerful verse clearly
and unmistakably argues against the pretribulational doctrine of imminency.
Since the events of the Revelation have not occurred (in contradistinction
to preterists), it is clear that the hour, day, month, and year is
2. So that they might kill
a third of mankind = is both frightening and enlightening. This is
the stated purpose of the predetermined will of God.
And (1) the number of the
armies of the horsemen was two hundred million; (2) I heard the number
1. The number of the armies
of the horsemen was two hundred million = is a staggering number.
However, the abrupt transition has led some to conclude that the four
angels were merely necessary to excite the armies for war. That is,
what follows in verses 17-19 is a resumption of the fifth trumpet
judgment described above! However, the fact that the sixth trumpets
clearly identified purpose is to kill and the fifth trumpets
purpose is to torment (without death as a result) should dispel such
John specifically and clearly
states that "the four angels" will "kill a third of
mankind." In verse 18, he indicates the "three plagues"
killed "a third of mankind." How are these details harmonized?
We shall see shortly.
2. I heard the number of
them = indicates the source of Johns knowledge. Those who doubt
John and what is written in the Revelation as to its truthfulness
do so out of sheer unbelief, not for lack of information.
And this is how I saw in
the vision (1) the horses and those who sat on them: (2) the riders
had breastplates the color of fire and of hyacinth and of brimstone;
and (3) the heads of the horses are like the heads of lions; and (4)
out of their mouths proceed fire and smoke and brimstone. A third of
mankind was killed by these three plagues, by (5) 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.
1. The horses and those
who sat on them = clearly points to a very different group than those
identified in Revelation 9:1-11. This vision includes both horse and
2. The riders = are described,
but not specifically identified.
3. The heads of the horses
are like the heads of lions =
4. Out of their mouths
proceed fire and smoke and brimstone =
5. The fire and the smoke
and the brimstone = are stated to be the expressed cause of the death
of a third of mankind. John says that these are plagues.
An important question concerns
the relationship between "the four angels," and "the
horses and those who sat on them." The easiest solution is to
recognize the four angels are leaders of the horses and riders as
the horrible locust-like-creatures had an angelic leader.
(1) The rest of mankind,
(2) who were not killed by these plagues, (3) did not repent of the
works of their hands, (4) so as not to worship demons, and the idols
of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, (5) which
can neither see nor hear nor walk; and (6) they did not repent of their
murders not of their sorceries not of their immorality nor of their
1. The rest of mankind
= confirms that only a third of mankind was killed. The term mankind
is a translation of the Greek word anthropos. This is a general
term. This group is composed of those who do not have the seal of
God on their foreheads.
2. Who were not killed
by these plagues =
3. Did not repent of the
works of their hands = is the first of two concluding statements about
repentance to follow the judgments of God (9:20-21 and 16:9, 11).
There are no explicit statements that the purpose of Gods judgment
is to elicit repentance from the wicked. Contrarily, Revelation 2-3
is marked by a continual call for repentance on the part of the righteous.
The righteous are called upon to repent, but no word is given as to
whether they did or did not. On the other hand, the wicked are not
explicitly called upon to repent, but they are repeatedly stated to
be unrepentant. The works of their hands is a recurring theme
in Scripture that refers to either idols (Deut 31:29) or mans
deeds (Ps 28:4).
4. So as not to worship
demons = clarifies Johns intent. Here, the phrase, the works
of mans hands refers to idols. Scripture indicates that
idols are nothing more than demons. Specifically, 1 Corinthians 10:19-20
states, "What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols
is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I say
that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons
and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons."
Therefore, a better translation
of this section would be, "with the result that they did not
stop worshipping the demons, or idols, made etc
" In other
words, demons and idols are the same thing. John lists the material
from which demons were made: gold, silver, brass, stone and wood.
John moves from the most expensive to the least expensive.
5. Which can neither see
nor hear nor walk = adds insult to injury. That people worship such
things is ridiculous. However, demonic involvement explains why people
worship idols. The supernatural component is achieved through demons.
6. They did not repent
of their murders
thefts = concludes
Johns list of vices uncorrected by trumpet judgments one through
six. These vices are listed on several occasions throughout the NT
in connection with wickedness (Rom 13:9, Mark 7:21-22). Sorceries
can refer to either poison or magical spells.
In biblical times, the term referred mostly to magical spells. However,
sorcery (pharmakon) can mean medicine or drug.
One needs to exercise caution at this point and not read modern history
back into Scripture, but it may be possible to see wide spread drug
abuse during this period. Particularly, given the wide- spread unveiled
manifestations of Satan and demons during the same period. Magic in
the traditional sense would be passé.
Section: Chapter Ten - The Little Scroll