This will begin by giving you the scripture from the King James Version of the Bible, then will go into our description of what the verses mean. You will be able to read various additional information contained in more specific files under "Research Materials".
In Revelation chapter 9, the fifth and sixth trumpets are described. The fifth trumpet brings a five month period of torment on the unbelievers of the earth.
In the first 12 verses, John employs the image of a pit seven times to describe hell. Each time the pit is closely associated with demons; it is also associated with the unsaved. (Romans 10 v.7)
This image of hell may also imply darkness and imprisonment since pits were often used as prisons in ancient cultures. Obviously, the pit appears as a place of suffering.
If you have trouble believing God could ever make a hell, remember it was prepared for the Devil and his angels. (Matthew 25 verse 41. Those who go to hell are in essence choosing to spend eternity with Satan rather than with Christ.
"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."
We know that Jesus Christ holds the key to the bottomless pit. He took the key away from Satan when He (Jesus) went there, preached, and brought captivity captive out with Him, Ephesians 4:8
The Fifth Trumpet - The expulsion of Satan from heaven. The identification of Satan in this passage is not hard to make. Isaiah foresaw this development in exactly the same manner described by John. "How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations!" (Isaiah 14 v.12)
Many people mistakenly
believe that throughout human history, Satan has already been banished from
heaven, or that he reigns in some kind of kingdom in hell. That isn't true.
Satan has always had access to the Throne of God, where he serves as the
principle accuser of the saints of God. "Now there was a day when the sons of
God came to present themselves before the Lord,
and Satan also came among them." (Job 1 v.6)
Satan's entry into God's presence changes here. Now he is kicked out of heaven, and he is furious. Note also that he carries with him the key to the bottomless pit. (Rev. 9 v.1) He didn't have it before; it was given him by the One who holds the keys to heaven, hell and to death.
9:2 "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."
Jesus gave Satan the keys so that he could be released to carry out this punishment. Just as Satan had to have permission of God to afflict Job, Satan brings all of these terrible things on the earth and his people by permission of God.
smoke that comes up surely will obscure the sun and diminish the light. In the
spiritual, it will diminish the Light, as
The abyss is the home of Satan and the demons. When Satan opens the abyss, here come the demons in force to deceive and destroy. They have such a vicious nature that God had to bind them to keep the human race from being annihilated before the appointed time, but now the restrains are off.
"And out of
the smoke came forth locusts upon the earth; and power was given them, as the
scorpions of the earth have power. And they were told that they should not hurt
the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who
do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
The appearance of these locusts is both frightening and repulsive (v.7-10), and they do not act in an unorganized way; in fact, John says, "They had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon" (v.11) Both names mean "Destroyer". This seems to be one of the plagues that God sends on the followers of Antichrist to hinder them from proselytizing among the uncommitted of the world. It may also give Tribulation saints some time to prepare themselves for the horrors of the soon to come Great Tribulation.
If any religious activity is still going on at this time, there will be a flood of false doctrine and defaming of the Lord Jesus Christ. It would be a kind of religion of the flesh, (anything goes religion). It sounds very much like what is going on today in most churches.
9:3 "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."
The description of the locusts indicates that they are demons who are given physical forms in order to manifest their destruction and torment. Horses show their warlike character. Their crowns depict them as conquerors. Human faces show intelligence. Their feminine hair perhaps makes them seductive and attractive. The teeth of lions shows them to be destructive and hurtful. Breastplates of iron make them indestructible. Wings symbolize swiftness. The stings in their tails give them the power to hurt. Fortunately for mankind, their period of torment is limited to five months. But the next judgment is even worse.
Notice, these have to be demons as they had no power in and of themselves. It was given unto them.
9:4 "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."
This is an attack on the person, which makes us take another look at it spiritually. They have orders not to hurt the vegetation or the 144,000 who have been sealed in their foreheads. Real locusts would eat every green thing that they could find, and they do. Looking at this from the spiritual standpoint, these locusts are demon spirits turned loose upon this earth. The devil, or his demons, cannot really hurt anyone covered in the blood of Jesus.
They were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months; and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a man." (Rev. 9 v.3-5) God's instructions are in essence, "You may torment those who have the Antichrist's mark, but you may not kill them." Also, "you may not touch those who belong to Me." Satan's power is under strict control over those sealed by God - both now and in the Tribulation. Though this will be a period of great anguish, it is really the grace of GOD at work. I'm sure that the LORD is seeking to make mankind think because of this terrible torment and to decide to come to Him.
9:5 "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."
Here again, whether this is physical pain and torment from fallout causing sores and torture, or whether this is spiritual and terrible suffering, it is brought on by constant attack from the devil for five months. It is terrible. As at Hiroshima, those who survived the bomb, wished they were dead. Great sores, deformities and torment beyond our comprehension took place. In many cases it took five months to die. A terrible burn would have the pain of a scorpion's sting.
At this point, let's look at something we've studied before. Remember the 144,000 where the four angels held back the winds until they had been sealed in chapter 7 verse 1?
Not only were the 144,000 sealed but also those who turned to Christ during the Tribulation. Those are the Tribulation Saints and they too were sealed by God just as all true Christians of today have God's seal on them.
9:6 "And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall
desire to die, and death shall flee from them."
Death would be a welcome relief to all this suffering. These forces of evil turned loose (unrestrained) upon the earth, whether physical or spiritual, will be so terrible that men will beg to die but will be unable to during this punishment.
This was the first of the three Woes!
9:7-8 "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."
Here John describes the locusts (demons) as he gives a detailed description of their appearance in his vision. They are described as locusts as they will bring massive and devastating judgment from God.
This demon host will be virtually unstoppable and man will have no weapon that can harm them or cure for the terrible torment they will inflict.
Their faces of men indicate they are intelligent and rational beings, not insects. Having hair as being like the hair of women emphasizes their seductiveness. Perhaps to lure unsuspecting unbelievers to come close to them before striking them.
Having teeth like the teeth of lions means they will be more fierce, powerful and deadly than lions.
9:9 "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."
Breastplates of iron symbolizes their invulnerability.
In short, they will be impossible to resist or to destroy. There will be no escaping their worldwide onslaught as there will be nowhere to run or hide from them.
In a metaphor drawn from a battlefield, John compares the sound of their wings to a moving army, noting that it was like the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to battle. The sound alone will be enough to put fear into the hearts of the unbelievers.
9:10 "And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power [was] to hurt men five months."
As these demons are compared to scorpions, it is clear that their mission is to hurt men. The very nature of this full scale demonic torment that drives men to seek death and not find it, or to pursue death and not catch it, is not described.
There are references in the bible where demons possessed people such as found in Matthew 8 v.28, Matthew 4 v.23-24, Matthew 8 v.6 and Mark 9 v.20-22.
These demons are given the power to torment unbelievers for 5 full months with no relief for the tormented. This stresses God's sovereign power over the timing of their assault. Eventually God will return them to the abyss with their evil master, then send them to the lake of fire. (Chapter 20)
9:11 "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."
You can call him any name you care to. This is Satan. Lucifer was one of the angels close to God in heaven. He was a very beautiful angel before his fall. All of the demons were angels in heaven until 1/3 of the angels followed Lucifer and became demons.
Angels, as we have said before, are ministering spirits. These fallen angels (demons) are ministering pain and suffering. Their mission is to destroy. Their leader, Lucifer, is the epitome of evil. He has been their king since they were cast out of heaven by God. Their abode, when they are not on a mission of destruction, is in the abyss. This is where they were loosed from in V-2. They are continuously causing war, both spiritual and literal. Their mission is to destroy any way they can.
This "king" in V-11 is the star we saw in V-1, which was thrown out of heaven and has hell for an abode. Just as he lead these angels out of heaven, he leads them in this mission of destruction. Satan, even though fallen, must do every thing the Lord commands him.
Remember all of this happens because God's wrath is kindled. God alone can stop Satan. This time God does not want to stop him. God allows, and even orders, this to happen. Satan, Apollyon, Abaddon, Lucifer, the devil, or whatever you care to call him, is still obedient to God. He, as we, or any other being, or angel, are created and subject to the desires of the Creator. God alone could stop this destruction. "Apollyon" and "Abaddon" mean destruction.
Jesus had and has many names. Satan is a counterfeiter, so he has many names, as well. People throughout history have tried to put names of modern conquerors to these, but I do not believe that is intended here.
woe is past; [and], behold, there come two woes more hereafter."
As if this is not terrible enough that we have been hearing about, there are two more woes. The open warfare on the streets of Lebanon and Israel remind us very much of the things we read about in the last lesson. A mother in that area of the world has no idea when her family leaves the house whether they will return alive or not.
The descendents of Ishmael and Isaac (the flesh and the spirit) are still in mortal combat after all the 1000's of years that have passed. Just as there is a spiritual battle of the flesh and the spirit that we must face each day, there is a physical battle in Israel between the Arab and the Jew. Ishmael was told that his descendents would live around the Jews and would be fighting continuously.
The Bible is true. A woe is a terrible calamity.
9:13-14 "And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God," "Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates."
The number six indicates man or mankind. "Horns" mean power and strength. The number four means worldwide. This "golden altar" is where God is. God is never associated with other metals.
The Sixth Trumpet - The Four Angels Released - At the blowing of the 6th trumpet, the 2nd woe is released: the release of "the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates" (v.14). The angels apparently lead an army of 200 million "horsemen" (demons) who kill a third of mankind through the plagues of fire and smoke and brimstone.
God views the Euphrates River as the dividing line between East and West. In fact, the old Roman Empire also saw it that way. Everything east of the Euphrates was called the Far East or Asia. The region just to the west of the great river was known as the Near East or Asia Minor.
9:15 "And the four angels were
loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for
to slay the third part of men."
When these angels are loosed, they immediately inspire the great population centers of Asia to launch an attack on the Western and Middle Eastern strongholds. These demons are effective, because they cause one and a half billion people, a third of the remaining population, to be killed in short order.
The Apostle John wrote, "And the four angels, who had been prepared for the Hour and Day and Month and Year, are released, so that they might kill a third of mankind. And the number of the armies of the horsemen (demons) was 200 million; I heard the number of them."
9:16 "And the number of the army of the horsemen [were] two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them."
Now in addition to the demons who have roamed the earth throughout history, spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph. 6 v.12) recently cast to earth (9 v.1 and 12 v.4) and the numerous demons recently released from the abyss at the sounding of the 5th trumpet, comes a new demonic army that is two hundred million strong.
Some have suggested that the 200 million will come from the Chinese who can currently field an army of that size. However it is very doubtful this could be a human army due to the inability to equip, feed, transport, not to mention the water it would take to support that size contingent. Those things taken into consideration strongly suggest this will be a supernatural rather than a human force, especially as the four angels (demons) are commanding this force.
When you combine this 3rd with the quarter of humanity killed in the seal judgments, by this point in the Tribulation half of the world's population (after the rapture) already has been destroyed. Tim LaHaye makes reference to the Chinese army which can raise a 200 million man army now. That has prompted some interpreters to suggest the 200 million would come with the kings of the east to do battle with Christ at the consummation of the end of this age, known as the Battle of Armageddon. While there is no question that the armies of the Orient coming to that battle at the very end of the Tribulation will be enormous, due to the incredible population of those countries, they definitely are not the Rev. 9 v.16 army. Consider the following reasons:
The 9 v.16 army goes out during the 6th trumpet, which occurs near the middle of the Tribulation; the 16 v.12 army goes out at the end of the Tribulation.
The 200 million in 9 v.16 are not humans but demons, doing
things men cannot do. These "horsemen" have a supernatural
effect on the earth.
The Chinese army would include all the men and women under arms in China, including their local militias or defense forces. There is no way the communist government could risk committing all its military and armament to the Middle East, for they know their freedom hungry citizens would revolt before they returned. Besides, the logistics of moving an army of 200 million from the Orient across the Euphrates and the Arabian Desert to the little land of Israel seems impossible.
Tim LaHaye states that the 200 million are not to be taken as humans. They are a literal unnatural, demon like evil spirits that come out of the abyss, advancing under the leadership of the four bound angels. Only the unrepentant will be killed by this judgment.
For these and other reasons not mentioned, it is not realistic to assume that the armies of 16 v.12 are synonymous with those of 9 v.16. The 200 million horsemen who come on the scene will obviously be supernatural, creatures that are so awesome to look on that they actually frighten some people to death. And their sting "is in their mouth and their tails", and with them they kill one third of the world's population of those who reject Christ and commit themselves to Antichrist.
9:17 "And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses [were] as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone."
Horses have been often associated with warfare in scripture. It is clear these are not actual horses judging the heads were as the heads of lions.
Many have tried to associate the meaning of this scripture with weapons of war, but this can't be. John would have no problem with associating a lion's head with what these appeared to look like.
John saw three ways the demon horses killed their victims and all ways depict the violent and devastating fury of hell. They incinerated them with fire, then asphyxiated with smoke and brimstone which proceeded out of their mouths.
9:18 "By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths."
The end result of this demonic 200 million was that a third of the remaining mankind would be killed. Note that a quarter of mankind was killed during the seal judgments, leaving three quarters of the remaining population. As one third is now killed, 50% of mankind now has been killed. (one third of 75 that was remaining is 25%)
The death of one third of the earth's remaining inhabitants will be the most catastrophic disaster to strike the earth since the flood during the days on Noah.
9:19 "For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails [were] like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt."
Not only were these demonic horses able to kill with their mouths, but also death was in their tails. Their tails are like deadly poisonous serpents. The horses tails were not actual serpents as the horses were not actual horses.
But these images are describing the supernatural deadliness of this demon force in terms that one would normally understand in the natural world.
Unlike the demonic scorpion stings of the 5th trumpet judgment, the bites of these demonic creatures will be fatal.
9:20 "And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:"
It is so unimaginable that after many years of suffering and death by this time from the horrible judgments of God, combined with the 144,000, the two witnesses, an angel who gives the Word of God to humans, not to mention the countless number of Tribulation Saints, that the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plaques, did not repent.
These "men" are not just males, but all of mankind. Women will have to answer for their own actions, as well as the men. What in the world has to happen before they will repent? All of these things worshipped in verse 20 describes our day. These are things of the world. Trying to out do the neighbors with: a bigger house - "wood or stone", finer jewelry - "gold and silver", expensive ornaments -"brass" and worship of the devil - "worship devils"
All of these things listed are inanimate objects and have
no power to accomplish anything.
Anything or anyone who does not elevate Jesus Christ to deity is in error and worshipping the devil. Jesus said Himself that "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." Matthew 12:30.
We are either on the side of Jesus or the devil. There is no middle ground. We are not to worship God's creations. We are to worship the Creator.
9:21 "Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts."
At that future point in history, idolatry, mysticism, spiritism, satanism and all forms of false religion will become the norm as demons lead people into more wicked and vicious behaviors. Violent crimes like murder will be absolutely rampant. Without any sense of morality, the evil, unrepentant people will imitate the demon horde's murderous blood lust. Of course, believers in God will doubtlessly be their prime targets.
Once again, people will refuse to repent of their sins as the world of unrepentant people compete for the scarce supplies of food, clothing, water, shelter and medicines.
Under the influence of the massive demon forces that has been unleashed upon the world, false religion, murder, sexual perversion and crime will be unparalleled in human history.
The Big Four Sins - Rev. 9 v.21 lists the four most prominent sins of the Tribulation period. The significance of these sins is great in light of present trends in the world. It's no coincidence that the four major sins listed here are today four of the most serious problems facing law enforcement.
(1) The first of these characteristic sins is murder. For whatever reason, societal permissiveness, lack of punishment or lack of faith, there has been an alarming increase in murder throughout the US and the world. One factor is the rejection of absolute standards of right and wrong. When a judge who posts the Ten Commandments in his courtroom is sued, you know society has its priorities upside down. Anyone who was awake in the latter part of the 20th century could see the violence around us. I don't think I need to elaborate on this point.
The murder of unborn children in our day is a stench in God's nostrils. Women and men should repent of these murders. Murder with a deadly weapon is not always with a gun or a knife. One of the most useless murders in our day is drunk drivers killing people with their automobiles. Some are drunk on alcohol and some on drugs. All of these are useless killings that do not accomplish anything.
President Clinton vetoed a bill, passed with bi-partisan support in both the house and the senate, that would have prohibited partial birth abortions.
(2) The second prominent sin of the Tribulation era will be drug related occult activities. The word sorceries is used in Rev. 9 v.21. It comes from the Greek word meaning pharmacy, and refers here to the practice of the occult tied to the use of drugs.
Drug use in the 1990's doubled from the 1960's and early 70's. In 1997 more than 11% claimed to use drugs every month. According to a study by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University in New York, today's daughters are 15 times more likely than their baby boom mothers to have begun illegal drug use by age 15.
Another category of skyrocketing use is in so called designer drugs, such as methamphetamine. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. stated when Bill Clinton was president that "I have never, never, never seen a president who cares less about this issue."
There is a strong link between drug use and demon possession. As far back as 1971, the International Journal of Social Psychiatry dealt with the reality of demon possession and how to diagnose it.
There is a need to ascertain if there is any involvement in drug addiction, as it is common that addicts, especially with heroin and alcohol, become involved with black magic and vice versa. Some have been known in some cases to have been very religious people who defaulted, and thus left themselves open to some power other than God to control their lives.
Sorceries can also be
anything associated with the occult: palm reading, horoscope, etc. So many
people in our society today are playing around with mind control, transcendental
meditation, and other false religions. All of this type of activity is to
undermine our belief in God.
(3) The third prominent sin of the Tribulation will be rampant immorality. "Porneia," the Greek word used in this verse, refers to all kinds of sexual activity outside of marriage. Apparently, there will be a complete breakdown in the institution of marriage. Well, folks, as anyone can plainly see, we're almost there!
More than 70,000 women are sexually assaulted every year in the US. (1 every 45 seconds) It is the most rapidly growing violent crime in the country.
Domestic violence is more widespread than ever. Each year between 2 and 4 million women are battered; 1,500 women are murdered by their intimate partners; 1.8 million elderly are victims of maltreatment; 1.7 million child abuse reports are filed. Fornication covers living with someone before you are married. Fornication covers being married and dating someone else. Fornication covers all homosexual and lesbian acts.
The US Supreme court rules as unconstitutional Colorado's Amendment 2 to the state constitution, a simple and popular attempt to prohibit local governments from turning homosexuals and other sexual deviates into the latest protected political class. By the court's reasoning, as dissenting Justice Antonio Scalia pointed out, any state that bans Polygamy is also in trouble.
It's actually a matter of debate in the House of Representatives and US Senate, whether men should be allowed to marry men and women marry women. (1997)
(4) The fourth characteristic of the Tribulation will be thievery of all kinds. Crime in all of its manifestations is on the upsurge today. The experts say a youth crime crisis is right around the corner. At the current growth rate, there will be nearly one half million more adolescent boys in the year 2010 than there are today. That trend would mean there will be 30,000 more chronic juvenile delinquents on the streets in 15 years. (from 1997) Though representing only 7% of all male teens, these chronic offenders commit 70% of all serious crime in their age group.
When a nation, founded as one nation under God, gives up its sovereignty under God in favor of "interdependence" on the world, you can see where the future lies. To be a friend of this future system in the sense of compromising God's viewpoint of life and letting the world squeeze you into its mold is to commit adultery, spiritually speaking. Remember, also, that in a true relationship with God through Jesus Christ, believers are viewed as being the "Bride" of Christ (2 Cor. 11 v.2) That's another reason that playing around with false religion is viewed throughout the Bible as spiritual adultery.
For the last 30 years, America has been engulfed in a culture war that threatens the nation's very foundation, its very survival. God's word tells us in Luke 12 v.48 that "For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more."
In the history of the world has any nation been more blessed than the US? Yet there is always a cost to immorality. And today we are beginning to pay it. In the past 30 years there has been a 560% increase in violent crime. Illegitimate births have increased 419%. Divorce rates have tripled. The number of children living in single parent homes has tripled. The teen suicide rate has increased 200%. Student Achievement Tests have plummeted 80 points.
It should not surprise us that Billy Graham said years ago
that if God didn't judge America soon, he would have to apologize to Sodom and
Gomorrah. But it's not just the US. The entire world is in a headlong plunge
into the morality of Sodom and Gomorrah and unfortunately into the same
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