In chapter 9, we arrive at the judgment of the fifth angel and the fifth trumpet (vv. 1-11). In the judgment of the third angel with the third trumpet we saw a great star fall into the sea. In this remarkable passage another star falls – but this time onto the earth. Here, as in previous depictions of judgment, we are probably witnessing a literal event – perhaps the fall of a brilliant meteor from the skies. The text makes it clear, however, that this is also a symbolic event. The star represents an individual who is given a key by which he opens up the gateway of hell, which is called here the Abyss.

In Luke 8:31, when Jesus cast the host of demons named Legion out of a man by the Sea of Galilee, the demons “begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.” The same Greek word for Abyss is used in this passage as in Revelation 9. By examining other passages of Scripture we can see that demons have already been imprisoned in the Abyss. Jude 1:6 tells us there are angels which are “kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.” It seems apparent that in these scenes in Revelation 9 we come to that “great Day” referred to in the book of Jude, for in this passage the “star” which falls to earth becomes a being who takes the key to the Abyss and opens it. Out of the Abyss come great clouds of billowing smoke, darkening the daytime sky. Then out of the inky clouds come hordes of locusts, so thick and numerous that they have the appearance of clouds – yet another image laden with literal and figurative meaning.

At the same time that we see a literal plague of locusts unleashed, we also see the release of demons – invisible spirit beings from the pit of hell. The demons are released to go out across the earth like a plague of locusts. As we shall see as we continue to explore this passage, the person represented by this second star is a Jewish religious leader who turns apostate and unleashes demonic forces, like clouds of deadly locusts, upon the earth. I believe this leader is Jewish because of the clues given in the passage.

The locusts/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. More specifically, they represent Israel. Yet there is a certain group of them – the 144,000 who have been sealed by God – who are guarded and protected from demonic influence and control by the Spirit of God. Those unbelievers upon whom the locusts/demons are unleashed are not destroyed, but are instead tormented for a period of five months.

The being represented by the second star, then, is that person the apostle Paul refers to in 2 Thessalonians as “the Man of Sin,” a crucially important individual who arises in the last days. This man sits in the temple of God and claims the worship of Israel and of the entire earth. He is well known, even among casual students of the Bible and biblical prophecy. He is sometimes called the Antichrist.

In verses 3 and 5 where John writes that the locusts/demons “were given power like that of scorpions of the earth” – power not to kill the unbelievers on the earth, but rather “to torture them for five months.” And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes a man.” The Antichrist has loosed a horde of demons upon the earth, and these demons afflict the human race with their agonizing “sting.” This “sting” is the demonic propaganda of the Antichrist, the hellish lies he uses to ensnare the minds and hearts of those who are naked to demonic attack because they have not been sealed by the Holy Spirit. The metaphor of a scorpion’s sting speaks of the lies which the Antichrist inflicts, deceiving and mentally tormenting the world on a massive scale.

In verses 7 through 11 John goes on to describe, in metaphoric terms, the locusts/demons from the Abyss and the horrible delusion they bring upon the earth. At first glance, the symbols in this passage may seem difficult to understand, but they are really not difficult to interpret. They are consistent with symbols used elsewhere in Revelation and other prophetic books of Scripture. The locusts take on the appearance of war-horses wearing something like crowns of gold, which speak of authority. As people hear the teachings and claims of this magnetic leader, he gives the impression of speaking with authority and power. The locusts wear human-like faces, suggests intelligence. The teaching of the Antichrist will appear reasoned and appealing to the mind. Hair like women’s hair suggests that which is alluring and attractive, which the Antichrist’s propaganda will be.

But his propaganda will also be like lions’ teeth – penetrating, cruel, and frightening. Iron breastplates speak of hardness and callousness of heart, for the demonic forces behind the Antichrist’s power are the most pitiless, merciless beings in the universe. Once their torment begins, there is no relief and no escape. The sound of the locusts’ wings is like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. His message will appear as an overpowering sound, symbolizing the fact that it will come forcefully and overpoweringly. This speaks of the fact that it will be irresistible to the masses, so that the Antichrist himself will become widely popular. The stings in the locusts’ tails, like the stings of scorpions, speak of the terrible aftermath of the Antichrist’s influence:  mental, emotional, and spiritual torment inflicted by demonic powers upon all those who opened themselves up to their oppression.

Revelation 9:1-11 Study Questions:

John’s concept of the present creation includes a bottomless pit which, like a black hole in modern astrophysics, is a place of anti-creation, anti-matter, of destruction and chaos. What happens when the bottomless pit opens up (vv. 2-3)?

Why do you think John describes the super-locusts that emerge from the pit in so much detail (vv. 7-10)?

Where do we see evidence of this kind of widespread, cosmic harboring of rebellion and destructiveness in our own times?

What are the limitations of the locusts’ authority (vv. 4-5)?

Why such drastic measures are sometimes needed in order to bring about repentance?

We too have seen terrible things in our day such as using sophisticated military equipment to strike terror into human hearts. If we suppose that such destruction ultimately comes, like the insect-on-steroids in John’s vision, from the bottomless pit, under the direction of the Antichrist, what is our proper response?


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