Revelation chapter 9 contains the lengthy portion of Scripture covering trumpet judgments five and six. We will investigate both in depth this week and next week. It will be important to also read next week’s emailing to get the complete picture of this chapter.
Verse 1: And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
The star John sees - a male personage - is with-out a doubt the devil of verse 11. The Greek tense in verse 1 is not fall - present tense, but fallen - past tense. Isaiah describes this fall in chapter 14, verses 12 through 14: How art thou fallen from heaven, 0 Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most high. satan’s fall came through pride. He wanted to be coequal with God. Jesus, in eternity past, beheld this fall and said to His seventy disciples, I beheld satan as lightning fall from heaven (Luke 10:18). This fallen one is presented with a key to the bottomless pit, and he uses it.
Verse 2: 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.
The term bottomless pit does not refer to one who has a voluminous appetite! Instead, the literal Greek renders it “the pit of the abyss.” The term is found nine times in the New Testament. In each case, it is a place to restrain or hold certain beings which have come under the judgment of God. For instance, when Christ went into the country of Gadarenes, He met a certain man who had a legion of demons. The demons within the man besought the Lord that he would not command them to go out into the deep [or abyss] (Luke 8:3 1). Their dread and terror of the pit (or abyss) was so great that they would rather become incarnated in swine. Oh, the pit of the abyss must be a terrible place!
How frightful, then, is the hour when the prison house of fallen angels is finally opened. The smoke ascending out of the pit darkens the sun and the air. Talk about pollution! The environmentalists had better get saved or they will be around for the greatest soot inundation in history. Then they will have a steady job picketing the portals of hell - but it will be too late.
Verse 3: 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.
These are not literal locusts. Their power is too great. They are most likely fallen angels who have been restrained and imprisoned in the bottomless pit since their fall (described in Genesis 6). These wicked beings, chained in darkness all of these centuries (see 2 Peter 2:4), can hardly wait to begin their acts of evil. They are told what they can and cannot do:
Verse 4: 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.
In chapter 7, we saw multitudes sealed. The locusts, or fallen angels, are not allowed to touch the sealed, only the unsealed - those who have worshipped the Beast and accepted his number, 666. Note also that the locusts are not allowed to kill the unsealed (the unsaved). They are permitted only to torture them.
Verse 5: 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.
What an agonizing period of time this will be!
Verse 6: And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
The next four verses give us a vivid description of these locusts, or fallen angels.
Verse 7: And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle [this speaks of strength and speed]; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold [this speaks of royalty; a picture of conquerors], and their faces were as the faces of men [denoting intelligence].
Verse 8: And they had hair as the hair of women [picturing attractiveness], and their teeth were as the teeth of lions [portraying cruelty].
Verse 9: And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron [picturing invincibility]; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle [denoting calamity].
Verse 10: And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.
These facts reinforce the gruesome portrait of life upon earth as the pit of the abyss is opened and the convicts of the ages - the fallen angels - are re-leased. The next verse clearly identifies the fallen star who is the leader of these perverted angels.
Verse 11: 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.
This king is named in both Hebrew and Greek. Abaddon is Hebrew. The term, found only this one time in our English Bible, is found six times in the Hebrew Bible: Job 26:6; 28:22; 31:12; Psalm 88:11; Proverbs 15:11; and 27:20. The Greek form, Apollyon, means “the destroyer” - a word that certainly describes satan.
12: One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.
Verse 13: And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,
Verse 14: Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
As the sixth angel sounds, John hears a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is in the presence of God. Isn’t it strange that many of the judgments are directly linked with God’s program of atonement? Perhaps this is because so many have rejected the message of the altar which speaks of the shed blood of Jesus.
Paul warned the human race of the danger of refusing this teaching: He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:28,29).
The rejection of God’s Word always brings serious consequences. Before us is a scene wherein even the altar (the only place where sin can be forgiven) and the horns of the altar (actually touched by the blood) unitedly cry out to God for judgment. Never treat the message of the precious shed blood of Christ lightly. Those who do will be sorry!
Now, because of rejecting the message, the voice from the altar tells the sixth angel to loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
The fact that they are bound proves that they are the fallen angels who rebelled and fell with Lucifer at the time of his revolt (see Isaiah 14:12-14). Once the Church is safely in heaven, four denizens from the pit of the abyss are released upon earth. Earlier we saw four unfallen angels holding back the judgment of God (chapter 7, verse 1). Now four wicked angels are set free to wreak havoc upon planet earth.
They are commanded to execute their judgment in the area of the Euphrates River. This body of water runs through Iraq and Syria and will become the point of origin for the battle of the ages in the future.
I frequently said that the Gulf War of 1991 was not the fulfillment of this prophecy but was simply the beginning of the end, as the final pieces of the puzzle were being assembled for the future. This is the part of the world where satan performed his destructive work against our first parents, Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:10-14).
It is the area where Cain murdered his brother Abel (Genesis 4:8), and where mankind made its first united move against God (Genesis 11:1-4). Later God made His unconditional covenant with Abraham in this location, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates (Genesis 15:18).
This land area belongs to Israel and no one but Israel. God will see that they get it. Proof? And I will set thy bounds from the Red sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee (Exodus 23:3 1). Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be (Deuteronomy 11:24).
Again God says, From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast (Joshua 1:4).
At one point in history, the Euphrates River became the boundary of the old Roman Empire - which is being restored and will fall under the rule of the Antichrist (chapter 13, verse 1). This area will surely become the sore spot as history progresses, for it serves as both the frontier of the promised land and the boundary of the ten-toed, ten-horned, western federation of nations that produces the Antichrist (Daniel 2:40,41; 7:23,24; and Revelation 13:1). The destruction unleashed upon the earth by the four evil emissaries is described in the next verse.
Verse 15: 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.
The population of earth is presently six billion souls. In our study, we have seen one-fourth of this number die under the rider of the fourth, or pale horse (chapter 6, verse 8). Thus, at this point in time, earth’s population is four billion, five hundred million. Now an additional one-third - or two billion - perish as the four fallen angels are released. These four executioners are undoubtedly waiting in the wings to begin the drama of the ages. They are prepared and eagerly anticipating their scheduled timetable. Remember, the Euphrates River is Middle East territory - the location of present-day Iraq and Syria. This is the world’s present and future tinderbox.
The holocaust will also include Russia and her allies posed against Israel (Ezekiel 38 and 39). The barbaric troops come against the nation of Israel from the north: Thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army: And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land (Ezekiel 38:15,16).
Russia is north of Israel. This is why Joel declared in chapter 2, verse 20, I will remove far off from you [Israel] the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate [Siberia], with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea. Geo-graphically, Russia alone meets the qualifications of this text.
As stated previously, Israel is mentioned as the battlefield of the world on eighteen occasions in Ezekiel 38 and 39. There is no doubt that the Holy Land becomes the site of the greatest war in the annals of history. Now Russia marches toward the middle of the Tribulation hour, but is driven back to Siberia (see Ezekiel 39:1,2 and Joel 2:20). She strengthens her forces and then returns to the land of Israel once again. The scope and intensity of the offensive continues to increase until all nations become involved and are finally gathered together against Israel at Jerusalem. God says, I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle (Zechariah 14:2). At that point the Battle of Armageddon takes place: He gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon (Revelation 16:16).
This Mid-east war numbers the largest armies in the history of mankind.
Verse 16: And the number of the army of the horsemen [was] two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.
Think of it! Two hundred million soldiers! No wonder the ancient prophet said, And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land (Ezekiel 38:16). [Just this year, the CIA Factbook says that the Chinese army will surpass 200,000,000!]
This army advances in the latest and best of equipment: For the chariots shall be with flaming torches in the day of his preparation. The chariots shall rage in the streets, they shall justle one against another in the broad ways: they shall seem like torches, they shall run like the lightnings (Nahum 2:3,4).
Many Bible scholars associate the army of two hundred million with Red China and her oriental allies by tying this text concerning the Euphrates together with chapter 16, verse 12: And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east [or the kings of the sun-rising] might be prepared.
Such an assembly of military might is quite feasible considering China’s present population of nearly one billion. Other Bible commentators believe this army is a supernatural one in light of the three verses which follow:
Verse 17: And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on 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.
Verse 18: 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.
Verse 19: 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.
The advocates of literalism believe that these same verses portray the latest inventions stockpiled in the military arsenals of the world. Either way, it will be a devastating period of time as the remaining third of earth’s inhabitants are destroyed by fire, smoke, and brimstone - a sulfurous, poisonous gas.
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