1 The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. 2 When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. 3 And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. 4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 They were not allowed to kill them but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes. 6 During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them. ~ Revelation 9:1-6
As we enter into Revelation 9 we find ourselves arriving in a period of time yet to come, a future time called the great tribulation. More particularly we are not only in the great tribulation, a three and a half period of God’s judgment, but we are seeing the very events that take place in the last part of the great tribulation known as the day of the Lord. This will be the day when the Lord comes to destroy the ungodly and the work of Satan. Then, He will set up His Kingdom and He will reign on the earth for a thousand years. That is followed by the new heavens and the new earth which is the eternal state. And, then sin and pain and problems will be a thing of the past.
Revelation 9 presents the judgments of the fifth and sixth of the seven trumpets which were introduced in Revelation 8. These two trumpets are also identified as the first and second of three great "woes" that will come upon the earth. Today, we will only consider the fifth trumpet.
Now, in heaven there is no time, there is no sense of past or future. Everything is present now! That is why it is so difficult in this book to tell exactly when events occur when they are brought into time. What is emphasized here, then, is not chronology but degrees of intensity. It is as though God keeps ratcheting down His wrath on stubborn man. The judgments of the seven seals gave us a quick trip through this seven-year period. The trumpets, however, return as it were to a section of the last week and turns the camera, so to speak, to give us a different angle on God's judgment during the end.
Later, when we get to the bowls of the wrath of God we will see still greater depths of earth's agony, but just how to fit it all into a time sequence is difficult. This is made even more confusing by the parenthetical passages which focus on events of special interest. We have already seen one of these in Revelation 7 and we will discover others as we go through this book.
Now, in today's text, we arrive at the fifth trumpet, presented in the v.1-6. In v.1 we read, "The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth."
Our text begins with the falling of another star, not into the sea this time, as during the third trumpet, but onto the earth. Again, this probably speaks of something literal. It is perhaps a great meteor falling from the skies. Many times in history such meteors have fallen to earth and created some degree of havoc and chaos.
This second falling star is not just a literal star, it is also symbolic. It pictures an individual who is given a key by which he opens up the gateway of hell, the Abyss. In Mark 5, demons begged the Lord Jesus, "Do not send us into the Abyss , but allow us to go into the great herd of pigs that are feeding on the hillside." The Lord Jesus permitted them to enter pigs that happened to be there at the time. After that the possessed pigs ran over a cliff and plunged into the sea and died. That story describes the fear of demons of the great Abyss.
In v.2-3 we read, "When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. 3 And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth."
In the book of Jude we read, "(Certain demons are) kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day." Apparently, in our study of Revelation, we have come to that Day for as the Abyss is opened, out of it comes a great cloud of locusts looking like smoke that fills the sky. Once again we are being presented with something literal and symbolic at the same time.
Along with this literal visitation of locusts, invisible demons are also released from hell into the earth. This seems very much like that which we saw under the third trumpet when the other great star fell. That star was identifiable as the Antichrist who at that time was a powerful political leader who would change his policy in the middle of the week. If that was a political leader who thus "fell" then here we have a Jewish religious leader who turns apostate, and, by that means, introduces demonic forces upon the earth.
In v.4 we read, "They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads."
I believe this star, this fallen one is Jewish because these demons were told not to harm "the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads." Clearly grass, trees and plants represent people, as we have already seen in Revelation 7, and they specifically symbolize Israel. Yet, there is a certain group of them, 144,000, that were sealed of God who are guarded and protected from this demonic control of human thought. The other people are not allowed to be destroyed but only tormented for a period of five months.
The Apostle Paul refers to this person in 2 Thessalonian as "The Man of Sin" who sits in the temple as God and claims the worship of Israel, and of the whole earth. The Antichrist's propaganda is described for us here under the figure of a "scorpion's sting." That will be the effect of his teaching upon those who believe what he will say. A scorpion's sting produces great agony when it stings. In fact, the one stung suffers incredible anguish for 24 hours. Nothing can relieved the pain. The scorpion's sting is used here to picture a terrible mental torment the Antichrist will level on the deceived.
In v.5-6 we read, "5 They were not allowed to kill them but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes. 6 During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them."
According to v.5, these demons will be limited by God in what they will be able to do. They will not be permitted to kill anyone. This is yet again a display of God's mercy because during this five months of torment, people will be given more opportunities to turn to God. Those tormented will wish they were dead but they won’t be able to die.
Five months is the normal life of a locust. They live from May to September. By the way, that’s the very duration of the rising flood waters in the day of Noah. God is going to give them five months to repent. The pain these demons inflict will also be spiritual. The demons will unleash all the filth and vileness within people. And it will be so bad that the people will seek death and will not find it. During those five months people will attempt suicide but they won’t die.
I am so relieved that the Rapture will take place before all of this goes down. I am so glad that I have trusted the Lord Jesus as my savior and I will not have to endure all of this junk. I trust, my friend, that you are prepared to be snatched away by the Lord Jesus in the Rapture which could happen right now.