And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven fallen unto the earth: and there was given to him the key of the pit of the abyss. And out of the smoke came forth locusts upon the earth; and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was said unto them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree, but only such men as have not the seal of God on their foreheads. And it was given 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 it striketh a man. And in those days men shall seek death, and shall in no wise find it; and they shall desire to die, and death fleeth from them. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared for war; and upon their heads as it were crowns like unto gold, and their faces were as men’s faces. 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 rushing to war. And they have tails like unto scorpions, and stings; and in their tails is their power to hurt men five months. They have over them as king the angel of the abyss: his name in Hebrew in Abaddon, and in the Greek tongue he hath the name Apollyon. The first Woe is past: behold, there come yet two Woes here-after. And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the horns of the golden altar which is before God, one saying to the sixth angel that had the trumpet, Loose the four angels that are bound at the great river Euphrates. And four angels were loosed that had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, that they should kill the third part of men. And the number of the armies of the horsemen was twice ten thousand times ten thousand: I heart the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates as of fire and of hyacinth and of brimstone: and the heads of the horses are as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths proceedeth fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three plagues was the third part of men killed, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone, which proceeded out of their mouths. For the power of the horses is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails are like unto serpents, and have heads; and with them they hurt. And the rest of mankind, who were not killed with these plagues, repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and the idols of gold, and of silver, and of brass, and of stone, and of wood; which can neither see, nor hear, nor walk: and they repented not of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. Revelation 9
Read More Than Conquerors, pp. 145–149
Four angels have sounded their trumpets. The present chapter, accordingly presents the fifth and the sixth angels, respectively sounding the fifth and sixth trumpets. This is followed by a brief statement as to the effect of these warnings.
A. THE FIFTH TRUMPET, verses 1–12
John sees a star that has fallen out of heaven to the earth. This “star” is “the angel of the abyss” whose name both in Hebrew and in Greek is “Destroyer” (verse 11 ). He is “the Prince of Darkness,” “the Dragon,” “The Old Serpent,” “Satan,” “the Devil.” Yes, Satan, too, has many names! So please remember that “Apollyon” in verse 11 does not mean “Napoleon,” though I once read that explanation!
Satan opens the shaft of the abyss which immediately begins to belch forth columns of dirty blue-black smoke. Out of this smoke “locusts” descend on the earth. We are distinctly told, however, that these “locusts” do not hurt vegetation “but only such men as have not the seal of God on their foreheads.” Accordingly, except in the picture itself, these locusts cannot be taken literally. Rather, under the symbolism of the locust-plague the power and influence of hell in the hearts of the wicked is described. The demons fill the souls of the persecutors of God’s children with dread and utter hopelessness. Let this be a warning to them. Let them ask themselves repeatedly, “Does my worship of Satan really make me happy? Does it bring me peace?”
B. THE SIXTH TRUMPET, verses 13–19
Hell has poured forth its demons to strike terror in the hearts of the wicked. And now the battle-field. The sixth trumpet describes war; not one particular war but an wars, past, present, and future. Yet, it is quite evident that the symbol refers especially to those most frightful wars that pertain to the close of the dispensation. John sees the armies on the field of battle. He hears the number of the horsemen: two hundred million! Their horses-like the “locusts” in the preceding vision—are not to be taken literally, except in the vision itself. These horses have lion-heads, and belch forth fire, smoke, and brimstone. They clearly symbolize most dreadful instruments of warfare. Today think not only of tanks, cannons, etc., but also of every form of nuclear combat. That God’s purpose in permitting such wars to be waged is that men should repent is clear from verses 20 and 21.
C. THE RESULT, verses 20 and 21
God has afflicted men by means of disasters on land, sea, rivers and fountains, the heavenly bodies, the demons pouring forth out of hell, and the horrors of warfare. All these afflictions were warnings, for the very purpose of the trumpet is to worn. They were calls unto repentance. Yet, in spite of all these warning voices, mankind in general does not repent, but continues to transgress both the first (see verse 20) and the second (see verse 21) table of the law.
1. Prove from this chapter that Satan can do nothing beyond God’s permission.
2. What is “the seal of God” (verse 4)?
3. Why did the voice come from the golden altar (verse 13)? Any comfort?
4. “Hour, day, month, and year” (verse 15). What great truth is here indicated?
5. Does this truth not cancel responsibility on the part of the creature?
6. Do verses 20 and 21 also apply to the present world situation? Explain.
7. If world-calamities do not produce repentance, what can we do to help bring it about?