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Lowell Brueckner

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Revelation 9


Chapter 9

1. And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit.
2. He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft.
3. Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth.
4. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
5. They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone.
6. And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them.
7. In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces,
8. their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth;
9. they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle.
10. They have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for five months is in their tails.
11. They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon.

The “woe” trumpets

The prominence of sinister spiritual activity becomes very evident in this last set of three trumpets. These are demonic manifestations, as great hordes of evil are released upon the earth in the last days. They are like– obviously a depiction of things which have not been seen by human beings

The fifth trumpet (v.1-12): After the third trumpet, a star fell from heaven and we noticed that it was given a proper name… Wormwood. We noted that stars sometimes symbolize spiritual personalities, who have been given authority. The blast of the fifth trumpet summons a fallen star and the verb tense indicates that it had already fallen, before John saw it, and was already upon the earth. This one obviously has personality, as he is given a key to the bottomless pit and he opens it (v.1).

Satan will be bound and kept in this bottomless pit, during the thousand years, in which Christ reigns upon the earth (20:1-3). At this present time, there are armies of demons, who are kept in the pit, until the time that they will be released in the last days. The demons in the Gadarene demoniac begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss” (Lk.8:31).

In Daniel’s 70th Week, the reality of the spiritual world will be powerfully observed upon the earth. There is a literal abyss and it is inhabited by imprisoned, literal, spiritual beings. When the ‘fallen star’ opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, billows of smoke polluted the earth, already affected by the pollution from the judgment of the fourth trumpet (v.2).

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However, not only smoke came out of the pit, but a literal army of locust-like demons (v.3), which spread like a plague upon the earth. Previous attacks destroyed vegetation and the creatures in the sea, mankind also being destroyed, when they happened to be in the path of those judgments. This destructive force had the power of scorpion stings and they directed their attack solely against the human race (v.4). 

I want to assure you that this is not symbolism; it is an invasion of a force, seen by John and described to us. He first describes the venomous nature of these creatures and the duration of the effects of their sting. The sting is not fatal, but carries the potency of a scorpion and the torment continues for five literal months (v.5). This is a fate worse than death and the torment will drive people to unsuccessful suicide attempts. The text relates, “They will long to die, but death will flee from them”. Every means of escape will be cut off “in those days”… throughout the five months (v.6).   

Eight times, the word like is used by John in his description of the attackers, from verse 7 through 10, showing that these creatures do not exist in our natural world, but are unearthly, demonic personalities. We can try to imagine them, if we’d like, but I’m afraid that without the personal presence that John experienced, we will not be able to capture their appearance, exactly as he saw them. They were like horses, had what looked like golden crowns; they had faces like humans, had hair like women, teeth like lions, and breastplates like iron. Their wings sounded like many chariots, and they had tails, from which the sting and venom like scorpions hurt people for five months.

There are ranks among demons: “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against 1) the rulers, against 2) the authorities, against 3) the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against 4) the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph.6:12). We had better have some spiritual wrestling coaching, if we intend to overthrow the kingdom of darkness! I have been getting a renewed conviction in these last weeks that God will raise up people, who will learn to battle in prayer. I am also impressed that God will pour out rivers of living water, with righteousness and peace kissing, in order that grace and love will be shed upon a guilty world.

This army of demons has a king over them, named in Hebrew, Abaddon, and translated Apollyon in Greek (v.11). The name means a destroyer, both in Hebrew and Greek, and may be Satan himself or, if not, one of his most powerful generals. We are learning about fallen stars, spiritual authorities being cast upon earth. Let us remember what Jesus said concerning the prince of darkness: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Lk.10:18), and Isaiah already knew of this event: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!” (Is.14:12). In Ezekiel 28:16 God states: “I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God.” In Revelation 12, we will study another devastating defeat of the devil. I believe, he hates this book, which so graphically describes his loss and condemnation and he tries to keep people from learning about it.

12. The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come.
13. Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God,
14. saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”
15. So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind.
16. The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number.
17. And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths.
18. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths.
19. For the power of the horses in in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound.
20. The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk,
21. nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

The second woe

The sixth trumpet (v.12-21): What follows the sixth trumpet blast is a second demonic attack upon the population of the world (v.12). Moses’ altar was made in the similitude of the heavenly altar with four small protrusions called horns (Ex.30:2). A voice from the four horns commands the angel of the sixth trumpet to free four evil angels, bound at the Euphrates River (v.13). God’s angels are not bound, so we can be sure that these are fallen beings. We see the sovereign hand of God overruling even the most potent forces and plans in the kingdom of darkness.

The important and historic Euphrates has been flowing since creation and it is a boundary line, which these four potentates have not been allowed to cross, particularly warding off potential attacks against the Holy Land (v.14). It would seem that they have been in training, over history, in charge of a different kind of demonic army, than that which we have studied earlier in this chapter. The army of locust-like demons tormented for five months, but this new plague will be fatal. These four evil angels have been given a specific mission for a specific time, down to the exact hour (v.15).

Spiritual events and those who play a part in them are on time schedules. Jesus spoke much about being subject to His Father´s time agenda and at the time of His trial, He said to the arresting mob of temple officers and Roman soldiers, “This is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Lk.22:53). They were only acting out their role in the divine chain of events. This is a truth that should comfort believers in the worst of times. The Lord God reigns from heaven and is always in control!
It is the sixth trumpet-blowing angel, who actually releases the demonic generals for this specific time. The four are over an enormous mounted troop, their number is very specific and John heard the literal number. I often say that the Bible student must be willing to tackle any number of subjects presented in the Word of God, because our Lord is involved in history, geography and even mathematics. This is a relatively simple math problem: 10,000 x 10,000 x 2 = 200,000,000 (v.16). Of all that we have studied so far of seals and trumpets this is the most devastating. It will kill a third of mankind. Since a fourth of the population has already been destroyed by the seals, their combined judgments will reduce the number of people on the earth to less than half.  

John explains that his Revelation comes to him by supernatural vision. He will try to define this last cavalry-like army that he saw to us. The breastplates of the riders seemed to be ablaze with fiery colors of red, purple and yellow. The horse-like animals that they mounted had heads like lions, and fire, smoke and sulfur spewed from their mouths as dragons are pictured to do (v.17).

When these three poisons came in contact with people, the result was fatal, and so one third of the population succumbed to the attack (v.18). The deadly weapons of the mounted troop come out of the mouths of the lion-headed horses. The tails are also weapons and are like serpents with heads (notice again the word like, because there is nothing earthly, which gives an exact picture), which wound their victims (v.19).

The remaining one half of the world’s population, roughly, did not repent. The magnitude of judgment only accentuates the awfulness of sin. The hard-heartedness of human kind is best seen in the book of Revelation, where we will see worse judgments still fall, and people will remain unrepentant. This, my friend, is one of the reasons why God created hell. There simply was nothing else that could be done for this race of mutinous rebels. They turned their backs on God’s kind rule and refused to receive His Son. They gave their consent to His sacrificial torture and death, and despised His attempt to save them by it. They have rejected or ignored the signs of the last days and the warnings of judgment to come. Now they are in the throes of judgment that is decimating their numbers and still they refuse to repent.

Man will be destroyed by the gods that he worships. Idolatry points to satanic worship and people are and will continue to be idolatrous. They worship the works of their hands, making themselves to be gods over their own idols. Fallen man is egocentric, forms idols in his own proud imagination, and is quickly joined by evil spirits, who inspire and bewitch his twisted mind.

The idolatry takes many forms and the computer age has added many cyber and e-images to add to the ancient forms of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood (v.20). With all the technical advances, the images still cannot see, hear or walk. As God’s Word informs us in this chapter, in the end, the gods behind the images will destroy their worshipers.

Besides idolatry, all forms of lawlessness will increase in the end times. There has never been more murderous times, like we see them today. Millions upon millions of little human lives are cut off in their mothers’ wombs. Doctors and nurses are the assassins these days and parents give their assent to the murder. Legislators legalize infanticide and provide instruments and funds to further the cult.

It will only worsen in Daniel’s 70th Week. So will witchcraft, fornication outside of wedlock and adulterous relationships. Thievery is common practice in what we might call normal business relationships (v.21). As the days go by, hearts become accustomed and hardened to these evil practices. Joni Earickson Tada said, "Gradually, although no one remembers exactly how it happened, the unthinkable becomes tolerable. And then acceptable. And then legal. And then applaudable." Because the heart is hardened, it becomes increasingly rare to see deep soul repentance in our day. Christian friend, don’t you think it is time for a desperate cry to go up to God’s throne room, while there is still opportunity for men to repent? Plead with Him for a last-day awakening and revival in the church and an ingathering of souls.   

We are taking these accounts in order, verse by verse, and chapter by chapter. The seventh trumpet or the third “woe” will occur later and when it occurs, we will attempt to cover it. There will be some preceding events in chapters 10 and 11, before the seventh trumpet sounds in 11:15. It is also mentioned in 10:7.



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