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Bible Commentaries

Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NT

Revelation 9

Introduction

1. We now move to the second half of the trumpets. The first four focused on warnings to Christians who might, under persecution or false teaching, abandon their faithfulness.

2. The next three trumpets sound warnings that only affect those who are followers of Satan. All that Christians have to do to avoid these last three warnings is to remain true, loyal and faithful to Christ.

3. The fifth trumpet is the only one that does not deal with the “third part” of man. Therefore, this one deals with man’s physical life. The sixth trumpet affects the spiritual part of man.

Verse 1

1 Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit.

A. At the sounding of the fifth trumpet, a star falls from heaven to earth. Who, or what, is this star?

B. Jesus speaks of Satan as falling like lightening from heaven. ( Luk_10:18 ) See also Rev_12:12 .

C. This verse refers to Satan, the devil and his forces that are on the earth.

D. The bottomless pit (abyss) seems to be the abode of Satan. It may represent hell itself. Smoke comes out of it. Where there is smoke, there is fire. Also in chapter 20, Satan is bound and cast into a bottomless pit.

E. In all ages, including today, the forces of Satan are present and active in our world. God is warning us of the consequences of following the devil.

F. NOTE: We must be careful about making the bottomless pit in chapter 20 and here the same. Here Satan has the key and is able to unlock and open the pit. In chapter 20 the angel of God has the key and binds Satan and throws him into the pit.

Verse 2

2 And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit.

A. The smoke must represent the pain and anguish which is located there. It is called the “smoke of their torment” in Rev_14:11 .

B. The smoke is so thick that the sun is darkened and the walking outside is like walking into a burning building.

Verse 3

3 Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

A. Out of the smoke come locusts. Common in the summer time, great swarms of locust would literally march across acres, destroying all plants in their path.

B. There power was like the power of a scorpion. The sting of the scorpion would do great harm and cause a lot of pain, but was seldom fatal.

C. When man follows Satan, painful consequences will result.

Verse 4

4 They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

A. The power of these locusts was limited.

1. They were not after plants and grass.

2. They were after men.

3. Only men who were not sealed by God - non-Christians.

B.“Any green thing” is symbolic of the Christians who have the seal of God on their foreheads.

C. Here is a parallel with the plague of locust in Exodus. The locusts hurt the Egyptians, but not the people of Israel. Here, the locust hurt men who are not marked as God’s. But, God’s people are spared any harm.

D. The clear message - Remain faithful and the locust will do you no harm. Abandon your faith and loyalty to Christ, and harm great pain can result.

Verse 5

5 And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man.

A. The locusts were forbidden from killing men. They were allowed to torment them.

B. The period of torment is described as 5 months. The number 5 is half of 10. Since 10 represents completeness. The number 5 is used to describe incomplete or short of perfection.

C. This should not be understood as a literal period of five months. This means that the domination of the locusts is not total or complete. Their powers are limited and there is a means of escape from this harm and pain.

D. The locusts represent all kinds of evil and wickedness. Today, we have problems with alcohol, drugs, prostitution, homosexuality, and adultery. The locusts are still around.

Verse 6

6 In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.

A. The pain will be so severe that some will seek death as a relief from the intense pain.

B. Some have tried to make this say “suicide”. However, the next phrase shows that death is not available. They are wishing for death, but it does not come.

Verse 7

7 The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men.

A. Now we will focus on the shape of the locusts. They are like horses ready for war.

B. Satan is ready for war. Satan is alive and active on the earth. Satan is prepared for battle but we are not always alert to his attacks.

C. On their heads are crowns, which “appear” to be gold. NOTE: They are not gold. They are pseudo-gold. They are fakes. The intent is to deceive and leave the impression that they have power and authority. But, they do not.

D. Their faces are like the faces of men. These locusts are actually people we meet and deal with in our lives. They are following Satan and seeking to get others to do the same.

Verse 8

8 They had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth.

A. The symbolism here is not clear. Some have suggested that the long hair like a woman represents the practice of all kinds of sexual sins. Others have suggested that this picture is a man - looking in some ways like a woman.

B. Is this a picture of a cross-dresser, a transvestite or a homosexual? I do not believe it is. Rather, my view is that Satan’s locusts can look like men or women, young or old, rich or poor. Satan’s locusts are humans on the earth, living for Satan, and trying to get others to follow Satan.

C. The teeth like a lion are much easier to understand. They have the ability to devour. If you listen to their teachings, and follow their examples, you will be devoured. Remember, Satan is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. ( 1Pe_5:8 )

Verse 9

9 And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle.

A. The breastplates of iron show that they have strong protection and defense.

B. The sound of their wings was like an army of horses heading into battle. This tells us that the number of locusts is great. Satan has a vast army. This loud roaring sound also alerts us to the fact that Satan is always on the attack. He is aggressive in his war with mankind.

Verse 10

10 They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months.

A. Similar to verse 5, we are reminded again of a couple of points.

1. They are locusts, but they sting like a scorpion. This is repeated in verse 19.

2. Their power is limited in duration. It is limited to five months.

B. The five-month limitation represents that the destruction will not be total.

C. The sting is in the tail. It is not as the temptation approaches, but as it leaves. Many sins seem to bring pleasure when we start them. It is later - after the sin has taken its toll on our life, health, safety and relationships, and we are trying to quit - the sting is felt. Ask any smoker, alcoholic, or drug addict. Ask a practicing homosexual who has contracted AIDS.

Verse 11

11 And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.

A. Now the focus turns to the leader of this army, Satan himself. Their king, leader, and captain of the army, is identified.

B.“Abaddon” is the Hebrew name. Abaddon means destruction.

C.“Apollyon” is the Greek name. Apollyon means destroyer.

D. NOTE: He is introduced as the angel of the bottomless pit. (1) Then he is identified by the Hebrew term (representing the Old Testament period) and is called destruction. Next, he is recognized by the Greek term (New Testament era) and named destroyer. Christ offers eternal life. Satan offers destruction. Do not follow Satan.

E. This fifth trumpet is sounding a warning that the devil is active and his followers are on the earth seeking to make converts.

Verse 12

12 One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things.

A. These last three trumpets are also called “The Three Woes” because woes are pronounced before they begin and between each one.

B. One is past. Two more to go. Things are bad and they will get worse.

Verse 13

13 Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,

A. Here we begin the sixth trumpet, the second woe. Now we are going to see God unleashing the powerful forces that will destroy the spiritual part of man.

B. While the fifth and sixth trumpets have some similarities. They are very different. In the fifth trumpet, Satan is given power to hurt people. In the sixth trumpet, God is the one who has the power to inflict torment.

Verse 14

14 saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”

A. The voice comes from the throne of God, from the golden altar. This is real gold, not the fake gold of the locusts.

B. The voice instructs the angel to release the four angels. This will take you back to 7:1. There were four angels at the four corners of the earth, ready to hold back winds and the sea. They were ready to destroy the earth, but were told to wait.

C. The Euphrates River, 1700 miles long, was the farthest boundary of the Roman Empire. The Euphrates was also used in the sixth plague of God’s wrath. (16:12)

D. This river is not to be taken as the literal Euphrates River. It is the symbol of the border between God and his people, and Satan and his followers. It is the line of separation between righteousness and wickedness.

Verse 15

15 So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind.

A. The angels were released to kill a third of mankind. Here, again, is the fraction of one third. Thus, what is described is not the death of physical men, but the death of spiritual men.

B. Some believe this is against the nature of God. Not true. Study 2Th_2:11-12 . We should also pay attention to Rom_8:28 .

C, This in no way removes the longsuffering of God. He is patient. But, there will come a time when patience has ended and God is ready to act.

D. The angels were prepared (taught, trained, given clear instructions) for an hour, a day, a month, and a year. This is additional proof of the longsuffering of God.

E. My view, God sees a person rejecting, refusing and rebelling against the will of God. God encourages them He is patiently waiting for them to return. God waits for an hour. God says, “I will give them a day.” Then, God extends the time to a month, then to a year. At some point, God determines that they are not going to repent. See Rev_2:21 where God gave Jezebel “space to repent” and she would not.

F. It is a serious mistake to think that our rebellion to God will prevent Him from ending this world and sending the rebellious to hell. The end will come. There will be a day of judgment. The wicked will be judged and assigned to hell. It will happen. God’s time of patience will end. His longsuffering is not eternal.

Verse 16

16 Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them.

A. The army is numbered at 200 million. Remember “2” is the number of strength and courage.

B. Here is a picture of an army strong and complete. This army is very able to do the task God has given it. They are able to destroy the spiritual part of men who have rebelled against God.

Verse 17

17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone.

A. The description of the horses and riders are similar to the fifth trumpet.

B. The riders have breastplates of fire. They are indestructible.

C. The heads of the horses are like lions. They are able to devour and destroy. They are breathing fire, smoke and brimstone. These are all terms used later in Revelation to describe hell, the place of eternal punishment for Satan and his angels.

Verse 18

18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed-by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths.

A. Today, there are many in our world that totally and completely rejects God, the Bible, Jesus, or anything spiritual. They have turned so completely away from the spiritual that prayer at a public gathering offends them. They object to an astronaut reading the Bible from space. They are driven to file a lawsuit because a prayer for the safety of athletes is given before a football game.

B. The fraction of one third shows we are dealing with the spiritual life, not physical life. God is not killing men. The destruction here is spiritual. He is allowing them to believe and live the lies of Satan. ( 2Th_2:11-12 )

Verse 19

19 For their power is in their mouth and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they do harm.

A. Again, like the fifth trumpet, the tails carry the sting. The real harm, the pain, the agony is in the tail. After one has followed Satan and his teachings, after they have continually rejected God, they will be turned loose to follow their reprobate mind and heart.

B. Often what begins as fun and pleasure turns into painful torture in the end. This is the pictured in the sixth trumpet.

Verse 20

20 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, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.

A. Remember the fraction shows that this is not complete or total destruction of all the wicked souls. These thundering horses will not affect some.

B. God lists some of the sins that are involved. Demon worship, idolatry of dumb statues of gold, brass or stone - these are the sins that kill the spiritual man. These are the sins that took the heart and soul out of Old Testament Israel. They are the sins that will take the spiritual life out of New Testament Israel also.

Verse 21

21 And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

A. They did not repent. Remember, God gave them time. He gave them opportunity and encouraged them to make the changes needed. They refused.

B. NOTE: All church discipline involves not just a sin, like adultery or drunkenness, but the refusal to repent. If they refuse to repent, there is not option left for God. God cannot remain Holy (pure, untainted by sin) if he condones, tolerates and permits sin to continue.

C. God extends the list - Murder, sorcery, sexual immorality, and stealing. These are just sample lists, not the sum total of sins that condemn. See Rom_1:1-32 and Gal_5:1-26 for longer lists.

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Bibliographical Information
Luscombe, Manly. "Commentary on Revelation 9". Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mlc/revelation-9.html. 2021.