Revelation 9:1-21 (NIV) 1 The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. 2 When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. 3 And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. 4 They 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. 5 They were not given power to kill them, but only 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. 6 During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them. 7 The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. 8 Their hair was like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. 9 They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. 10 They had tails and stings like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. 11 They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon.
On verses 1-11: If there was any passage in the Bible that resembled a science fiction movie, it’s these 11 verses. What is going on here? The fifth angel sounds his trumpet, which then triggers “a star that had fallen from the sky” to appear. Apparently this star is not an actual star from space, but a fallen angel who is referred to as “he” in verse 2. This fallen star (or fallen angel) is given the key to “the Abyss”. While “the Abyss” sounds like some kind of space craft, it is not clear what the Abyss is. We do know that when the fallen angel opens the Abyss, enough smoke comes out of the Abyss to darken the sun and sky. After that, the most powerful and scariest looking locusts come out of the Abyss.
Unlike the locusts that God sent in the book of Exodus who ate of all of Egypt’s vegetation, the sole purpose of these much scarier locusts was “not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree” (v4), but to hunt down those who have not been marked by God with a seal and torturing them for five months.
The leader of these locusts is “the angel of the Abyss” (v11). It is very probable that “the angel of the Abyss” in verse 11 and the fallen star in verse 1 are the same person. His name (Abaddon in Hebrew or Apollyon in Greek) means “Destroyer”. Thus many commentators believe that this angel of the Abyss, this fallen star, is none other than Satan himself.
What can we learn from this? Notice that the fallen star (also known as the angel of the Abyss, the destroyer; i.e. Satan) does not appear until the fifth angel sounds his trumpet. Notice also that the angel of the Abyss “was given the key” to the Abyss. What that suggests is that even Satan himself is subject to God’s authority and power. As Jesus said to Pontius Pilate, the same can be said of Satan: “Jesus answered, ‘You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above…'” (John 19:11)
That does not mean that God is the author of Satan and evil. Rather, God has power over Satan and evil and allows them to do only as much damage as God permits. In the end, Satan must answer to God.
Revelation 9:12-19 (NIV) 12 The first woe is past; two other woes are yet to come. 13 The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the horns of the golden altar that is before God. 14 It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” 15 And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. 16 The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. I heard their number. 17 The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur. 18 A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths. 19 The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.
On verses 12-19: After the sixth trumpet sounds, four angels are released to kill a third of mankind. They do so by mobilizing a massive army of 200 million horses and riders, whose appearance is arguably as scary as the locusts that came before them. A third of mankind is killed by the fire, smoke and sulfur coming out of the mouths of these “horses”.
Revelation 9:20-22 (NIV) 20 The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping 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.
On verses 20-21: Despite seeing and enduring so much suffering as a result of their sin, there were those who “still did not repent” (v20).
What can we learn from this? Repentance is an issue of the heart, not of our circumstances. If a person has a soft and humble heart toward God, even the smallest sin will cause that person to confess and repent. If a person has a hard and prideful heart toward God, great suffering may come to that person as a result of their sin and still they will not repent.
Don’t wait for your circumstances or your environment to make you feel spiritual or to cause you to repent. It all comes down to the condition of a person’s heart. You get to choose whether your heart is soft and humble before God or hard and rebellious toward Him. That is why, as Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
Heavenly Father, we stand in awe of You. May my heart always be soft toward You, that I would be quick to admit to You when I’ve done wrong, that I wouldn’t wait until it is too late to humble myself before You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!