REVELATION 9:1-12: THE FIFTH TRUMPET JUDGMENT
All right, let’s begin our study of God’s word. Last week, we looked at the first four trumpet judgments, as seen in Revelation chapter eight. The first trumpet told about a hailstorm mixed with fire and blood that burned up one third of the earth’s tree and all of the earth’s green grass. The second trumpet turned one third of the seas to blood. Trumpet number three made one third of the world’s rivers poisonous to drink from. Finally, trumpet number four was where the sun was weakened by one third, making it dimmer outside and making the daylight hours one third shorter. It seems like the main point of the trumpet judgments was to harm the natural world, while giving mankind another opportunity to see the light and trust in Christ. In tonight’s lesson, we will see how the focus of God’s judgment moves from the natural world to the human population. To see what I’m talking about, please turn in your Bibles to Revelation chapter nine, and we will be reading the first twelve verses. Again, Revelation 9:1-12.
“And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from Heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon. One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.”
All right, because of the subject matter, tonight’s devotion will be a little bit different than normal. Basically, I will give you a brief summary of these twelve verses. Then, we will look at three different theories for what this judgment will look like. Finally, I will tell you what my humble opinion is, and then we will try to apply it to our day and time. Let’s begin.
If you have your Bibles open, notice that verse one says that a star was fallen from Heaven, and to him was given the key to the bottomless pit. In the Greek language, the implication is not that John watched this star fall, but that he saw it after it had fallen. In the Bible, angels that rebelled against God are often referred to as “fallen stars.” And because of the importance of this angel, it seems that he is most likely Satan himself. So, John did not see Satan fall from Heaven. Instead, he saw Satan, whom he knew to be a fallen star. Now, the last part of verse one says that the key to the bottomless pit was given to Satan. Who do you think gave the key to him? That’s right, it could only be God. And many people both inside and outside the Church would throw their hands up at this and shout, “Why?” Why on earth would God give Satan the keys to the bottomless pit? Doesn’t God know what Satan is going to do with them? Well church, does God know what Satan is going to do with the keys? Yes, He definitely does. But one major key to understanding the entire book of Revelation (and the entire Bible for that matter), is that God has the final say in every matter, and sometimes it is His will to allow Satan to have his way on earth. Now obviously, Satan and God have very different objectives. Satan wants to completely destroy all of creation and discredit God. Our heavenly Father, on the other hand, desires to redeem all of mankind to Himself, and sometimes He uses judgments on earth to accomplish this. So, in some way that is more difficult than my mind can hope to comprehend, God uses the wicked schemes of Satan, and He turns them around to work within His perfect plan. I know that’s tricky, but does anybody have any questions or comments about this?
The rest of this passage talks about how this angel, presumably Satan, goes and opens the bottomless pit, and a huge swarm of locusts came out of the pit. These will not be regular locust that will eat trees and grass and stuff. No, these locusts will have tails like scorpions, and they will go around for five months stinging every non-Christian they can find. Verse four says that people who have been sealed by God will be saved from this calamity. While some believe that those sealed by God only means the 144,000 will be safe; I believe that this divine protection will extend to all Christ followers. One amazing thing about this plague is that there will be absolutely zero deaths from it. As a matter of fact, the passage says that people will want to die, but won’t be able to. What does that mean? That means that the pain from these locusts will be so excruciating that many people will attempt to commit suicide, only they will fail. Throughout time, people in our world have tried with all of their might to avoid death, and failed. During this period of time, though, people will do everything in their power to die, and yet they won’t find a way to. Personally, I believe that this will be the only five-month period in recorded history in which absolutely no one dies. That in and of itself will be a miracle, won’t it?
Let’s move on by looking at how these locusts are described. They are said to be shaped like horses. They will be wearing crowns of gold. They will have faces that look like human faces, and they will have long hair like a woman. They will be wearing what will look like breastplates of iron, and they will have tails like scorpions. Verse ten says that they will have the power to hurt people for five months. I think that there is an important difference between the five months mentioned in verse five and the five months mentioned in verse ten. The five months mentioned in verse five tells us that the locusts will go around stinging people for five months. The five months mentioned in verse ten says that the pain from the sting will last for five months. In other words, this plague will last for a total of ten months. Assuming this locust plague will make some sort of circuit around the world, some people will inevitably avoid being stung for quite some time. And so, if some people get stung near the end of the five months, their five months of pain would just then be beginning.
Verse eleven tells us that these locusts have a king whose name in the Hebrew is Abaddon, and his name in the Greek is Apollyon. These two words basically mean the same thing. The Hebrew word Abaddon means “destruction,” and the Greek word Apollyon means “destroyer.” Since I believe that the king of this locust swarm is Satan, I would say that these are two more names given to Satan. We know that Satan goes by many names, such as Lucifer, the Dragon, that Old Serpent, the Devil, the Enemy of our Souls, the Father of Lies, and so on. I believe that Abaddon and Apollyon are two more names we can add to that list. Verse twelve concludes the passage by reminding us that one of the woe trumpets has passed, and there are still two more to go.
So that is a basic summary of these verses. Now I want to quickly share with you three theories about what these verses mean. The first theory is that this will be a literal plague of locusts. And we’re not talking about crazy, horse-man-scorpion looking locusts, we’re talking about big grasshoppers that go around eating stuff. In this theory, all of the details about what the locusts look like are merely symbolic. For instance, some people believe that the hair of the woman represents the antennae of the locust, and the breastplate of iron represents its tough outer shell. So theory number one is that this is just a big old plague of locusts.
Theory number two is that this passage represents something that has already happened in history. One belief is that the barbarians that sacked Rome are the locust plague mentioned here. There was one tribe of barbarians that would always grow their hair our long, so some believe that they are the locusts mentioned. Another belief is that the Muslim invasions led by Muhammad are the locusts mentioned. They would say that Muslims spread just like a plague of locusts over the Middle East. I imagine that there have been some who have applied this passage to everyone from Napoleon, Hitler, Genghis Khan, and George W. Bush. So theory number two is that the locust plague is symbolic of a group that spreads their armies like locusts over the earth.
The third theory is that this is a judgment that will happen in the future. At some point during the Tribulation, Satan will unlock the bottomless pit, and a large group of demons that swarm like locusts will torment mankind for five months. They will have bodies like horses, hair like women, tails like scorpions, and faces like mankind. It will be a literal, actual judgment. Can anybody guess which one of these theories I agree with? Haha, that’s right, this third one. First off, you all know that I believe that the book of Revelation is a snapshot of future events, not past events. So that right there knocks out theory number two. And the reason that I don’t believe this is a normal locust plague is because of all of the details. Do I understand all of the details about what these locust-demons will look like? No, but I know that the details are important! John isn’t the kind of writer that likes to waste ink. If this was merely a regular locust plague, then John would not have gone on to describe the locusts for four whole verses! Sometimes details in the book of Revelation are difficult, but they are always important. So if John said they had bodies of horses, then I believe that something made him say that.
So to sum this up, I believe that there will one day, Satan will unlock the bottomless pit, and a huge swarm of demons will flood out and torment non-believers. Now, something we have to realize is that these demons would love to torment believers. In fact, I imagine that believers would be their favorite target. Why do you think they don’t attack believers? That’s right, because God won’t allow them to. So what does all of this mean for us here tonight? Well, first off, I hope that this judgment doesn’t scare you. If you have followed Christ, then these locusts will be nothing more than an ugly nuisance. The power of God will prevent them from hurting you. This passage reminds us that God is in complete control of every situation. Sometimes when it seems like Satan is winning the day, but we have to remember that God has everything under control, and He will emerge victorious. This passage also reminds us how merciful our God is. He could have sent a swarm of locusts that killed every non-believer they stung. But instead, He prevented them from dying. God is giving people another chance to choose Him. Next week, we are going to see a judgment where God kills millions and millions of people. But for now, He is giving people another chance to turn from their sin. Praise God for His mercy! Aren’t you glad that in your life, He gave you as many chances as He did? I know that in my life, if He had only given me one chance to accept the gospel, I would be burning in hell right now. But instead, He gave me numerous opportunities to accept Him. And in Revelation nine, we see how God judges the sins of the wicked, but He also gives them a wake-up call to turn from their sins and follow His Son. Praise God for His mercy on us!
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