Revelation Chapter 9
In Revelation 8, we began to read about the final Seal Judgement on the earth, and then in the latter part of Chapter 8 we read about the first four Trumpet Judgements out of seven. These Trumpet Judgements were as follows:
|1.||Hail and fire mixed with blood hurled down on the earth||A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees was burned up and all the green grass was burned up.|
|2.||Something like a huge mountain, all ablaze was thrown into the sea||A third of the sea became blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.|
|3.||A great star blazing like a torch fell from the sky (it was called ‘Wormwood’)||A third of the waters became bitter and a third of the people died from the waters that had become bitter.|
|4.||A third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark.||A third of the day and night was dark|
These early judgements, whilst being frightening in their own right, are nothing as compared to the final three Trumpet Judgements. As John watched from heaven in awe, he saw an eagle flying, calling out in a loud voice: “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth,” Revelation 8:13. The eagle obviously has forewarning of the horrors which are about to be unleashed on the earth; subsequently, this terrifying knowledge caused it to express its feelings as woes. It primed John for what he was about to see and his vision can prepare us, to have some sort of understanding of what is to come. John’s description of the first woe takes up Revelation 9. Perhaps we should expect that with such tragedies to come amongst the inhabitants of the earth, and with the ecological disasters imposed on them by God’s judgements, people would turn to Him ‘en masse;’ but we will discover that because of the nature of evil on the earth, this will not happen. We need to pray for opportunities to share the love of God, with all our families and friends, before all these natural disasters. Those whom we love need to be forewarned about all that is coming on the earth. We must not be rocked into a false sense of security; ‘end times’ have been talked about for many years and so it is foolish to think it may never happen in our lifetime! After the Rapture we will want our friends, who are left behind, to say: ‘I wish I had listened to the warning!’ and not: ‘Why didn’t she (or he) tell me?’
The sounding of the fifth angel’s trumpet is the start of ‘the Woes,’ Revelation 9:1-2. The star that was described as having fallen from the sky in Revelation 8:10 was part of a cosmic disturbance. However, this star should not be confused with the one called ‘Wormwood.’ We don’t know for certain whether this ‘star,’ which fell from heaven, is Satan, a fallen angel, or an angel in God’s service. We could say that it is an angel in God’s service because the key to the shaft of the Abyss (bottomless pit) is normally held by Jesus Himself, Revelation 1:17-18. Jesus holds the keys to death and hell. He took them back from Satan when He overcame him, by dying on the Cross at Calvary. As the Only One to live an entirely sinless life on earth, He conquered death, hell and the grave. He went to Hell, and for three days, He preached to those who had lived before, but had been locked up without the specific knowledge of salvation. On the third day, He rose again and the Bible tells us that He ascended with many, who had been held captive until His resurrection! Ephesians 4:8-10. The quotation is from Psalm 68:18
The keys were temporarily given to this angel (see also “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain,” Revelation 20:1). This angel, whoever he might be, is still under God’s control and authority. The Abyss is also known as the Bottomless Pit and is the place in which the demons and Satan, the king of demons (Revelation 9:11), will be held bound for a thousand years.
The Abyss, or Bottomless Pit, is a place of torture. It is a place which Satan and the demons already know well. When Jesus met a demon-possessed man in the region of the Gerasenes, He asked him, ““What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. 31 And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss,” Luke 8:31-32.
When the fifth angel sounded his trumpet, John saw that the star which had fallen from the sky to earth had been given the key to the shaft of the Bottomless Pit, which he then opened. Satan and all his demons were no longer in any doubt about the timing of their own end. This was the final battle, but Satan in his twisted and abhorrent way was not going to give up without another fight. The reality of defeat is staring him in the face, yet he is still in denial and will not accept the inevitable. He is determined to take with him as many as he can, to death and eternal destruction. Satan is a depraved and utterly out-of-control created being. He is not God, nor ever will be God, but he wants to set himself up, even in these last days, as a god; something to worship in place of the Real Living God, the Only True and Wise God! It is a fact that Satan has always been a deceiver and we know that Jesus called him, “the father of lies,” John 8:44.
It is very relevant that: “smoke like the smoke of a huge furnace puffed out of the long shaft so that the sun and the atmosphere were darkened ………” Revelation 9:2. Having experienced bush fires in Australia, seeing their devastation in Indonesia and regularly in California and many other parts of the world, it is easy to appreciate how smoke hides so much. It causes destruction and disorientation with loss of focus, which masks the source of the trouble. Satan is already preparing the world for what is to come. So in this time of amazing new technical innovations, developments and education, this smoke screen is drawing people away from the source of their talent, to entertainment and enlightenment, which are found in the occult practices. Many television programmes have witchcraft and occult undertones, especially children’s programmes and video games. There seems to be an enormous increase in demon activity on the earth, so when the fifth trumpet is blown people will have been preconditioned to reject Biblical Truth and instead, accept the doctrines of demons. The smoke from this Pit will rise and affect the entire earth. The astrologers, soothsayers and fortune-tellers will be at a loss to explain the reason for such a sudden and cataclysmic event, yet they will all have a captivating influence over the people on earth at this time.
So let us all, who spend time studying this Word, be in no doubt that we are now living in the time just before the Tribulation period. In Matthew 24, where we are presently looking at what is to come during these final months, we have seen how Jesus has said it would be at this time, that those who are left behind on the earth, will still be refusing to acknowledge that He is Lord!
Hell is a place of eternal torment and darkness. It is a place of everlasting separation from God, Who is Light. Everyone who has ever lived has made a choice for God, or against God; so when they die their choice is respected and they go to a place where God is, or where He is not. Picture a place without God! Even when confronted by this terrible reality, such a place, when it is opened up to the full view of those left on the earth, will sadly serve as a warning to only a few. Perhaps the ecologists will be able to offer some small explanation for such events, saying that the people of the earth are the cause and have brought this disaster on themselves, through their lust, greed and thirst for oil and energy.
Out of the smoke, and disguised in it, will come a plague of locusts, which will be unlike anything ever seen on the earth. In Exodus 10:1-20, Pharaoh was subjected to a plague of locusts when God, through His servant Moses, instructed the Ruler of Egypt to let His people go. Although those locusts ate everything in sight, they did not harm the inhabitants of Egypt. They were a nuisance and a massive disruption to the economy, but they left the people alone. God states in His Word that there will never be a plague of locusts such as that type again. The entire land was black with them. They were everywhere, in the fields, in the palace and even in the houses of the people. But that plague was merely the fore-runner of the one that is to be unleashed on the inhabitants of the earth, during the time following the blowing of the fifth trumpet. Joel foresaw this event and wrote about it in his book, Joel 1:2 – 2:11. He links the plague of locusts with the Tribulation Period, which we are now studying. He describes the horror of the Exodus infestation, but ‘sees’ this Tribulation plague as having the absolute terror and ferocity of an almost mechanical destruction, aimed at people, who in the face of such an onslaught are defenceless. The fortifications of walls and houses, battlements and other deterrents are entirely useless. This army of locusts is disciplined and relentless causing pain wherever they go, “the earth shakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine,” Joel 2:10. This is an army where the Lord is in control. It is He, Who is trying to woo the attention of every last person on this planet, before it is finally and irrevocably too late. If it takes the horror of these creatures to finally attract them, where love, affection, cajoling and even death have not, then He is even prepared to go to these great lengths!
To these locusts was given the power of the scorpions of the earth. Scorpions have a sting in their tail which can cause extreme pain and even death in a normal, healthy human being. But whereas ordinary locusts eat grass and vegetation, these locusts are targeted only at humans, who are not Believers, Revelation 9:3-5. This woe does not have an impact on the people of God; the locusts can only affect those who are not Christians. The Believers are marked with the seal of God on their foreheads. It is true to say that if we are Believers, then we are already marked with the seal of God, whether we appreciate this or not! Ephesians 1:13-14
As with the Exodus locusts, these scorpion-like creatures are also not permitted to kill their victims, Revelation 9:5. In the days of this Woe, death will evade even those who try to kill themselves. Death has been a natural part of life from the foundation of the world until the days we are now discussing. People have died and committed suicide up to this time; but suddenly, at the moment when this attack comes and people are screaming in agony, the release of death, whether self-inflicted, or just because the body cannot cope any more, abandons the inhabitants of earth. Now and for a period of five months – for as long as the locusts are permitted to live on the earth – death will elude even those desperate to find it! Revelation 9:5-6. This is the result of people’s determination to live life their own way, in spite of all the warnings from God. They ignored God’s love, as seen in Jesus, and turned their ears away from the wooing of the Holy Spirit, until God had no choice but to allow them to go their own way. This is certainly not God’s will for anyone, but a direct result of sin and rebellion, 2 Peter 3:9.
The Locusts – Revelation 9:7-12
So what do these locusts look like? Well, they are not pleasant, nor do they resemble the type of locusts we know on earth. John had difficulty in describing them in a language that we would understand, so he used familiar earthly images in an attempt to recreate what he had witnessed, Revelation 9:7-10. He saw that these locusts seem to be cunning creatures, well-disciplined, and intelligent. They do not appear to use forceful means; they just march forward in a cruel and inhumane way, being entirely selective in choosing only those people who do not have the mark, the seal of the Living God on them. They are only allowed to torment, not to kill. Satan is drawing his worst demons, who have been incarcerated for a long time by the power of God and are now let loose on the earth, 2 Peter 2:4.
What will the world look like without the Church? Imagine if we opened the doors of the prisons and let out all the worst prisoners, allowing them to do their most heinous acts against mankind. Then consider what it will be like, as Satan is now permitted to summon to his aid the most diabolical fiends, to act as his agents, with his whole purpose of bringing people to worship the Beast. Once the pit is opened, the world will be invaded by a virus far more traumatic and deadly than the bubonic plague, yet without the death. The description of the hair of a woman suggests something that is possibly seductive; the occult world always uses sexual attraction as a hook to draw men to follow demons, without them realising it and often before it is too late. Then the teeth of the lion show us that if we fall prey to a bite from this demon lion, it will not let go and the wound will never heal. The breastplates show they are totally immune to the pain of their victims and they certainly move fast to fulfill what their leader wants them to do, as they had a time limit of five months. They have tails with the sting of a scorpion to injure men and there will be nowhere for people to hide. The locust-demons have a leader whose name in Hebrew and in Greek means ‘Destroyer,’ Revelation 9:11. It may be a play on words by John, to show that those who worshiped the great god Apollo, worshiped only a demon.
The sixth angel – Revelation 9:13-19
All this is just the first Woe! It is very difficult to imagine that there could be anything comparable to this, but now we are in a position to examine things that we could never even begin to imagine in a civilised society, where the power of the United Nations holds some sort of authority and where Peace Keepers can be deployed to almost any corner of the world, Revelation 9:13-16
The altar in the temple had four projections, one at each corner and these were called the ‘horns of the altar,’ Exodus 27:2. When Satan was exiled to earth after his rebellion against God, those angels who followed him were also cast down. They were bound in chains to await judgement, Jude 6. The voice from the golden altar gives the instructions to release the four angels and this happens. They had been kept bound at the River Euphrates, which is such a strategic place in God’s plans. The river is the dividing line between the near-East and far-East; it is also the eastern border of the Promised Land, in the coming days. The Euphrates is one of the four rivers, which flowed out of Eden and Eden was the first place where Satan revealed himself. It was also the scene of the first murder!
These four angels are now released and given a fixed time period in which to operate and to create their destruction. The time period is thirteen months, one day and one hour; this highlights God’s total control. These angels have been given authority to kill one third of the remaining population of the earth. Without the command of God, nothing can happen on the earth; whereas right now, God’s Word has full and complete authority on the earth. Life and death is in the power of the tongue, Proverbs: 18:21, so you and I need to be careful of how we speak. We should only speak what the Word of God says, Have faith in God, Jesus answered. I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him Mark 11:22-26; Ephesians 4:29; James 3:5-6
In those days, men and women will continue to speak, but the harvest of the words they sow will be death and destruction.
The vehicle that these four angels use for destruction is an army of 200 million men! Some commentators say this army will come from the East, probably because China is the only country that could find an army of 200 million men. This comes from the mention of the Euphrates, in Revelation 16, where the Battle of Armageddon is described. John is amazed at the millions summoned to war by the four angels. This unit will be a component of the armies arrayed against The European Union, although at the last minute they both will recognise that they have a common enemy in God, so unite to go into combat against Him at the Battle of Armageddon. Until that date and time – still a year ahead – the army will need some more preparation.
The horses described here are not horses as you and I understand them. Don’t forget that John was limited by his understanding of military power at that time. These horses have heads like lions and out of their mouths come fire, smoke and brimstone. Perhaps this is nuclear fire-power, but certainly massive power to destroy. Is it an army of real men, or demons, who have taken over men from every nation? Are they spirit legions who madden men and drive them forth to battle? In Revelation 16 we can read this, “The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates and its water dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East,” Revelation 16:12. This conflict in Revelation 9 may be a completely separate war, as there is still a year until the end of the Tribulation. Russia, following its annihilation during the Gog Magog war, will no longer be a threat nor a continuing ally for India, who snubbed China militarily in the 1970’s. Now, with its vast army passing the northern borders of India, could this be a good time to destroy a power that has for some years been a thorn in the side of China? Perhaps this is what will happen at the hands of this army in such a short time, in order for the destruction of a third of the remaining people on earth to take place?
Lack of repentance – Revelation 9:20-21.
Despite all this horrific destruction and personal pain and loss, individuals will not repent of their sin and turn to God as their Lord and Provider. On the contrary, they will sink deeper into the lawlessness, which has driven them to the depths of Satan’s control. Those who are still alive and who have not trusted God, will be identifiable as: “worshipping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood – idols that cannot see or hear or walk. 21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts,” Revelation 9:20-21.
What characterises the world today? What do people do more and more, not only in their free time, but also during their working hours? We only need to use the Internet, read the newspapers, or watch television, to identify that people are trying to fill the God-shaped hole in their lives with things of their own making. So-called ‘retail therapy’ is at the centre of the lives of most people. They chase after ‘investments’ making more money for themselves and their pensions, to fund lifestyles that are still many years away. There is absolutely nothing wrong with preparing for the future and investing in a pension fund, providing that the task does not become all-consuming and an idol in its own right. Sadly, especially in the Western world, and increasingly in the East, the acquisition of valuable material things is at the heart of what most people covet, even at the expense of running up huge debt on credit cards. How often does it take a natural disaster to remind the whole world that our eternal relationship with the living God and with the people we love is what is really important? Even after all the horrific disasters, we can see here that people still have hardened hearts.
Increasingly, we see that there is scant regard for the sanctity of life. An example is the tens of millions of abortions, which have been, and are being carried out daily, throughout the world. The real-time televising of terror attacks, wars, the ensuing mass-migrations and famines have left most of us immune to the tragedies, which these things bring about. When killing is on the increase, we perhaps remark on it for a day or two, before another one occurs, so people gradually become desensitised to the reports. Magic Arts – witchcraft aided and abetted by drugs and their abuse – is already at the heart of our culture today. This will escalate and take the place of religion, becoming established as the ‘world religion,’ pontificated over by the false prophet. Séances and mediums, the use of clairvoyants and necromancy are all specifically spoken against in God’s Word, and yet, because God is no longer honoured, His Word will be forgotten and the words, ‘humanism’ and ‘Satanism,’ will prevail, Leviticus 19:31. If people do not hold to the sanctity of life, the consequence will be that morality is abandoned! This permissive, liberal life-style of ‘anything goes,’ will tolerate rape, incest and homosexuality, the debasement and abuse of all ages, to the point where people will become no more than animals, or even worse.
People will even seize property for themselves, exactly what they desire and when they want it. Life will become stressful in the extreme, without real meaning for most. In fact people will not live, they will merely exist.
The descent of civilisation to ‘every man for himself,’ will take little more than six years and yet, people will still resist turning to the God Who made them; the God who longs for none to perish and Who continues to love them. What amazing Grace! Perhaps what we are learning is the incentive we need, to motivate us to introducing our friends and family to Jesus? Is this the time for them to know Him as the Lord of their lives, so that they too, might become Believers and avoid the horrors, which regrettably, may not be too far away?
How do we feel about these things in comparison to life today? Jesus said that He came to this earth with a purpose: “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep,” John 10:10-11. This fullness is a passionate love relationship, moment by moment with our Shepherd. Previously, we have seen that as the end time draws to a close, “…the love of many will grow cold,” Matthew 24:12. The only way to prevent our backsliding is to follow our Shepherd really closely, with Him as our only focus, so that when trials come, as they will, we will run towards Jesus and not away from Him.
21 Revelation 9 – The final trumpet judgements – Challenge Questions
It is suggested that you answer all the questions in your homework but only do those marked with ‘*’ in your group to save time and give more time to prayer.
1. *Read the Notes and the Bible Verses referred to in them. Highlight the points that ‘speak’ to you and be prepared to share with your group.
2. *Read Ephesians 1:13-14. What do you think about being marked by the Holy Spirit? Do you live aware of this fact and how could you remind yourself more often?
3. What do you think the world would look like without the Church?
Read Revelation 10
Do not get too concerned about the right answers enjoy this wonderful focus on Who is the centre of our victory.
4. Name some of the things that in your opinion destabilise society. Are these things rife today?
5. *In Revelation 10:1, a mighty angel comes to earth. Describe this angel in your own words
6. What is his purpose in coming? Who sent him? What is the significance of him planting his feet where he does?
7. What do you think is the little book (scroll) open in his hand?
8. *Is this angel the same angel as is to blow the seventh trumpet? What will this announce to Satan and his hordes of followers? Who are Satan’s followers?
9. *Revelation 10:3-4 describes the angel shouting. What followed his shouting?
10. *In Revelation 10:5-6, the angel raised his right hand to heaven. Why did he do this?
Who else was instructed to do these things? Daniel 12:5-9
11. What will characterise the mood of the people alive at this time? How important is this desire in people?
12. What does Jesus say about what is important in life and what is not?
13. *When will this time described here take place? Mark 13:32,33
14. Jesus uses reference to ravens and to lilies in Luke 12:22-34. Why does he use these examples? Do we believe that God will always provide for us in this way whatever the circumstances?
15. *In Ephesians 3:10-12, Paul describes what God’s master plan has always been. Describe it in your own words.
16. Is this plan in evidence in today’s society? Why or why not?
17. Proverbs 4:20-22 describes the importance of what? Why is it still important to us?
18. *In Revelation 10:8-10, God instructed John to take the scroll and to do what with it? What is the result for John? Describe how that applies to us today?
19. *Pray and ask God to show you who He would like you to share what you are studying? Pray for their heart to receive what you say.