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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 9

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-2

Throne Section-The Trumpets

15 The fact that they perform priestly functions shows that they are of the priest nation. No other nation will have access to the temple ( Exo_19:6 ; 1Pe_2:9 ; Rev_1:6 ) .

16 This description of millennial blessing is in accord with many passages in the prophets, notably the description of Jerusalem by ( Isa_4:5-6 ).

1 The hush is occasioned by the intense expectation which accompanies this, the last seal, just as the crowd who clamored for Paul's death hushed when he was about to speak ( Act_21:40 ). Hitherto there have been cries for vengeance and bursts of praise, but now the crisis has come and all hold their breath, as it were, to see the outcome. The delay shows that the inflictions are deliberate, not vindictive.

2 The trumpet was sounded in Israel in case of war ( Num_10:9 ). This was done by Ehud ( Jud_3:27 ) and Gideon ( Jud_6:34 ; Jud_7:8 ; Jud_7:18 ) and Saul ( 1Sa_13:3 ). ( Zep_1:14-16 ) calls the day of Jehovah a "day of trumpet and shouting". ( Joe_2:1 ) "Blow a trumpet . . . for the day of Jehovah comes". The trumpet judgments are the divine response to the prayers of the souls under the altar ( Rev_6:9 ).

2 The seven messengers may be identical with the seven who pour out the seven bowls ( Rev_15:1 ), and the seven spirits before the throne ( Rev_1:4 ), one of whom is Gabriel ( Luk_1:19 ).

3 The golden altar is distinct from the brazen altar of the fifth seal, which was in front of the temple and tabernacle. This altar was in the holy place, before the curtain, behind which was the ark and mercy seat, which was Jehovah's throne ( Exo_30:6 ; Exo_40:5 ; Exo_40:26 ) .

5 Compare the action of the messenger with the tenth of Ezekiel ( Rev_10:5 ; Rev_10:8 ), where fire is taken from between the Cherubim and strewn over Jerusalem in token of its doom.

7 Blood and fire are signs of the day of the Lord ( Joe_2:30 ). One of the plagues of Egypt was sounds and hail, and fire ( Exo_9:23-25 ). This will be repeated on a grander scale. Compare Joe_1:19 . We have no more reason to make the effects of the Trumpets figurative than the effect of Moses' rod in Egypt. A greater One than Moses is here.

8 This burning mountain may be a volcano, for this time is characterized by seismic disturbances of unparalleled violence ( Exo_7:20-21 , Psa_78:44 ; Psa_105:29 ; Hos_4:3 ; Isa_2:16 ).

9 If we believe that the river of Egypt was turned into blood and the fish in the river died ( Exo_7:20-21 ) when Moses smote the waters, what reason is there why we should not look for a similar judgment in Jehovah's day? ( Psa_78:44 ; Psa_105:29 ). But under no circumstances may these judgments be found in this day of grace.

10 The "star" seems to be a gaseous comet which will be readily absorbed by water. Absinthin, a yellow, crystalline compound, is the bitter principle of wormwood, which is highly poisonous when taken in large doses.

12 Signs in the sun, moon, and constellations precede the coming of the Son of Mankind ( Luk_21:25 ), though the usual reference is to the final cataclysm ( Rev_6:12 ).

Compare Amo_8:9 ; Jer_4:23:13 The vulture is noted for its swiftness ( Deu_28:49 ; Jer_4:13 ; Hab_1:8 ).

Unlike the eagle, it goes in company, seldom alone. Hence the significance of one vulture. It feeds on the carcasses of the dead, and is foraging for prey.


The last three trumpets, because of the unexampled and terrible nature of their inflictions, are called the three woes.

1 The abyss is a vast waste of waters which were on the surface of the earth after the cataclysm of Gen_1:2 , but which later subsided into its bowels, to emerge once more at the deluge ( Gen_7:11 ; Gen_8:2 ) and to recede again afterwards. It is called the abyss (depth) reclining under ( Gen_49:25 ; Deu_33:13 ). It is the subterranean source of springs ( Deu_8:7 ; Pro_8:28 ). In the beginning there was no abyss ( Pro_8:24 ), It occurs in Luk_8:31 ; Rom_10:7 ; Rev_9:1-2 ; Rev_9:11 ; Rev_11:7 ; Rev_17:8 ; Rev_20:1 ; Rev_20:3 . It plays a prominent part in this Unveiling, for the wild beast ascends out of the abyss ( Rev_11:7 , Rev_17:8 ) and Satan is imprisoned there during the thousand years.

1 The "well" is not a mere pit but is used of Jacob's well from which water is still drawn. This is in line with the meaning of abyss.

Verses 3-21

Throne Section-The Locusts

8 The detailed description of these locusts forbids our taking them in any way but as literal creatures just as they are described, Their time limit is the same as natural locusts-five months-but they differ from them in many ways, Common locusts are harmless to mankind.

They devour only the vegetation ( Exo_10:12 ), These are designed to torment mankind without killing them, yet do no damage to the grass or the herbs or the trees. They are a fourfold combination of the horse, the lion, the scorpion and the human. They are swift as horses, terrible as lions, intelligent as human beings and malignant as scorpions. It will be a far more terrible scourge than anything which has preceded it. There is good reason for calling it a woe! Locusts have no king over them ( Pro_30:27 ), but these are the subjects of the messenger of the abyss. His name is given in both Greek and Hebrew. Both Apollyon and Abaddon signify "Destroyer". Defensively they are armed with iron cuirasses, an armor covering the entire trunk with both breast and back plates. Their offensive power lies in their tails, which are like scorpions, The sting of the scorpion is very painful, much more so than that of the hornet. Men have been known to die of its effects. Just as Satan was licensed to torment Job, but forbidden to take his life, so these locusts are limited to their work of torment and cannot take life. Their sting is so terrible, however, that the votaries of the wild beast would be glad to die, if they could, to escape it. All of this is in direct contrast and actual opposition to God's dealings in the present economy of grace. Hence it is worse than futile to seek any fulfillment in the history of the past. Such scenes as this can come only once in the history of the race and must necessarily be of brief duration. Those who have God's seal will escape. The locusts in the introduction to Joel's prophecy represent the four Assyrian invasions which devastated the land in the four generations referred to. Two of these, involving Judah, are the immediate subjects of Joel's prophecy.

Throne Section-The Horses


The second woe is even more terrible than the first and, like it, cannot be understood otherwise than literally.

14 These are probably the messengers who were thrust into the gloomy caverns of Tartarus, to be kept for chastening judging ( 2Pe_2:4 ), or, as Jude says, kept in imperceptible [not "everlasting"] bonds under gloom for the judging of the great day (6). Now that the specific hour and day and month and year has come, they are sent about their work of killing a third of mankind. The detailed description of these creatures is necessary because no one has ever seen such monsters. It is difficult to imagine two hundred million cavalry such as these, in which the horses themselves are provided with death-dealing mouths and tails. This is certainly one of the marvels "which are not created in all the earth, nor in all the nations" ( Exo_34:10 ). None of men's instruments of destruction seem to compare with these. They combine modern methods of warfare, such as flame projectors and poison gas, with the serpent's sting. Preceding judgments will have reduced the population of the earth by more than one fourth ( Rev_6:8 , Rev_8:11 ). We have no way of knowing how many will be alive at the time when death is fleeing from mankind ( Rev_9:6 ). A third of these will be killed by "the troops of cavalry."

17 Amethystine, the ancient hyacinth, corresponds to our amethyst, a transparent, violet colored gem, or our sapphire, of purple hue. The context here suggests the amethyst.

17 Sulphur was much used as a purifier in the religious rites of the nations, hence its name in the Greek is "divine". Fire and sulphur were regarded as the divine lustrations or purifying agents.

20 That such a judgment should not change the minds of those who are spared seems incredible. Yet such is man. The most terrible trials but harden his heart instead of producing repentance. They continue as before in their idolatry and sin. We may learn from this that men do not change their minds from compulsion or fear, even in the proclamation of the kingdom.

This will be accomplished by milder means.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Revelation 9". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/revelation-9.html. 1968.
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