Title: THE ARMY FROM THE PIT
Text: Revelation 9:1-21
Chapter 8 ended with the announcement that three fierce woes were to follow. In our text we will see the meaning of the first woe. The fifth trumpet brings it and it is quite different from the preceding trumpets. The previous trumpets have had their effects on nature, but the trumpets that are to follow bring devastation to those who deny God. The fifth trumpet calls upon other agencies to do the destruction. It is as if a wide door that separates the earth from the prison of evil spirits beneath is summoned to open. Coming from the pits of hell, those that inhabit that dark place are called to overrun the earth and inflict torture upon a specific target. Let’s see what that target is. Read Text.
1. As John heard the fifth angel sound his trumpet, he sees a star fall from Heaven. Is the star a person? Who do you think this star-like person is? (Satan, the king of the bottomless pit, who has an army of demons; Lucifer = “brightness”; he is compared to the morning star; Jesus called him lightning falling from Heaven.) Rev. 9:11; Eph. 6:11-12; Isa. 14:12-15; Lk. 10:18 Why is “Destroyer” a fitting name for him? Jn. 10:10
2. How does verse 1 indicate that Satan has limited authority? (The key was given to him before he could loose his army.) What do you know about the bottomless pit? (It’s the abode of the demons; Satan is temporarily jailed there during the Lord’s reign on the earth; the Antichrist will ascend out of this pit.) Lk. 8:31; Rev. 20:1-3,10,14; Rev. 11:7
3. What happens as soon as the pit was opened? What do you think the smoke represents? (Strong delusion of Satan’s forces.) 2 Thess. 2:8-12
Insight: This blackness obscures the light of the sun. It’s just like Satan to do his work in the cover of darkness. So as to not be exposed, Satan sends a dark delusion that chokes out the light of the truth. Notice that not only was the sun darkened, but the air as well. Since he is the prince of the power of the air, when his domain is enlarged to the earth, he wants his decorations to match that of his abode below.
4. Following the smoke is an army of locusts. Is there any indication in the text that these are not locusts as we know them? (They have tails like scorpions; they do not hurt any green thing; they are assigned to hurt only certain people; their sting lasts 5 months.)
5. What is the assignment of this army? (To torment all those whom God has not sealed.) Since they are from Satan’s pit, don’t you think this is opposite of those he wants to hurt? Why is that? (The demons of darkness have always been limited by the commands of the higher power, God.) Job 1:6-12
6. What protects certain people from the locust at that time? (The seal of God on their foreheads.) How do you get the seal of God? (By trusting in Him as Lord and Savior.) Jn. 1:12; Eph. 4:30; Ezek. 9:3-6
7. How long is this locust-army to torment?
Insight: An interesting parallel is that the normal life span of a locust is 5 months, May to September. What adds to the torment of the sting of these locusts? (You want to die, but death is illusive. 9:6)
8. Obviously these locusts have a lot of symbolism. Let’s see what we can gain from their description. What meaning do you get from the fact they are from the bottomless pit, yet have a face like a man? (Demonic, but face appeals to men so that they are not afraid of them.) Crowns on their heads? (Assured victory.) Women’s hair? (Seductive.) Teeth like a lion? (Savage.) Iron breastplates? (Invulnerable.) Wings? (Swift advancement across the earth.) Rumbling sound from their wings? (To terrify.)
Insight: I don’t think it is necessary to try to interpret this in light of modern means of warfare, but the point is that John is heaping image upon image to describe the horror of this judgment upon those that refuse to bow the knee to the Lord of Heaven and Earth.
9. If Satan opens the bottomless pit to let out this tormenting army of locusts, where did He get the key from? (Jesus.) Rev. 1:17-18
Insight: God has a perfect time for all these events and nothing will happen too soon or too late. 2 Thess. 2:1-12; Rev. 9:14-15
10. The sixth angel sounds his trumpet and what is revealed is the moral state of man in this period of time. It will be a time of much demon-worship, which indicates morality will go out the window in that day. Murder will among the most common of crimes. Why do you think the angels were bound at the river Euphrates? (They were not to be loosed until a specified time, for a special purpose.) How is the purpose of this army different than the one preceding it? (They do not just torment, but kill 1/3 of those on earth. Since ¼ of man has already been killed [6:8], this means that half of the world’s population will be dead by the time the 6th trumpet is completed.)
11. What is interesting about what summons the army of two hundred million horsemen? Rev. 9:13 (It’s the voice from the blast of horns from the altar – the slain martyrs who cry for vengeance!) Rev. 6:9-10
Insight: When a call for retribution comes from the altar, it is because of some great crimes committed against that altar!
12. Where is the deadly power of these supernatural horses? (In their mouths & tails, not their legs and hooves.) How do these horses kill? (By the fire and smoke and brimstone that comes from their mouths, and poison in their tails.)
Insight: Beware – from the beginning of time Satan’s forces have been belching forth words that will slay every one who embraces them. Even the image of the tails of these horses indicates who their commander is – the serpent who seeks to kill and destroy!
13. You would think this destruction would cause people on earth to repent. Does it? If these judgments do not cause repentance, then what is their purpose? (It is not remedial, but retribution; God is upholding His Holiness and vindicating His suffering people.) What does this tell you about hearts that persist in committing evil even while God is judging them? What actual sins were they committing in the middle of this judgment? 9:20-21
This period of the great tribulation will be an age of lawless, reckless sin and disrespect for human life. When man turns his heart away from God, the days darken and sin abounds. We can’t decide what is right in our own eyes. We need a Holy God who directs our hearts – a God of love that directs our paths to lead others to His love.
God is working out His plan, and neither the sins of mankind nor the schemes of Satan will hinder Him from accomplishing His will. Those who disowned Him and rejected His Son, whom He sent to wash away our sin, will find a righteous indignation as justice’s outrage no longer hides an eye towards the wickedness of men. The trampled law of righteousness will assert its dignity and those who taunt the throne of God and mock purity will be trampled under foot of Him who rides the white horse of victory.
In light of this awesome glimpse of the final days, it should solidify the resolve in our hearts to be true to Him from whom no sinner can hide. You either stand with Him or He stands against you.