Summary of passage: The 5th angel sounded his trumpet and a star that had fallen to the earth opened the Abyss from which smoke rose which darkened the sky and unleashed locusts who tortured those without the seal of God on their foreheads. They suffered severe agony–so much so they wished for death but were not granted it.
The locusts had human faces, wore crowns, had hair and lions’ teeth. They wore breastplates and their wings were loud. They had tails like scorpions and tortured people with them for 5 months. Their king was Abandon or Apollyon or Destroyer.
The 6th angel sounded his trumpet, releasing 4 angels who were bound at the Euphrates and killed 1/3 of mankind. Troops came forth with breastplates. The horses had lions’ heads and they spewed fire, smoke, and sulfur. They had snakes’ tails.
The rest of mankind who survived this still did not repent.
9) The first four seals and trumpets are judgments against the earth. In the first four seals, these were the four horsemen bringing tyranny, war, famine, and death on the earth. In the first four trumpets, these were ecological destruction of the vegetation, seas, fresh waters, and sky.
The last three seals focused upon heaven: the cry of the martyrs, cosmic disturbances, and the heavenly prelude to the seven trumpets. The last three trumpets will speak of hell and the demonic. These judgments are against man himself.
10a) The people who had the seal of God on their foreheads. Believers marked for salvation or the remnant. “Servants of God” Rev (7:3).
b) Part personal Question. My answer: They were to be tortured for five months and the agony would be like the sting of a scorpion. Unbelievers need to repent now or face misery ahead.
11) They were worshiping demons and false idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood. They were killing others, doing magic arts, being sexually immoral, and stealing. It’s everywhere today. People worship themselves, other people, material items, their jobs, their kids, spouses, or other religions and their gods. We still have murder, black magic, the occult, immorality, and stealing. Man’s nature does not change. This includes his sin nature as well.
Conclusions: Surprised on questions on the identity of the Star or the king. No questions on what the locust represent or the Abyss or the demons. From previous lessons and this one, BSF is only asking questions that probably have a straight-forward interpretation. They are avoiding any questions that are up for debate or speculation.
In one way that’s good because it simplifies the study and avoids conflict amongst different viewpoints. However, in another way it’s bad because it’s good to think about these things, their possibilities, and what exactly is God saying through John. Knowing God’s Word and Him is the point of bible study and trying to figure out what He is trying to tell us enables our growth with Him.
Please see all of my End Notes which explore the passage and possible explanations. I do my best to include all the possibilities but feel free to add more if I miss something.
One more caveat: Beware of commentaries that assert something absolutely. That is more likely the writer asserting his point of view than exploring the whole text. Remember a lot of these symbols have different interpretations.
End Notes: This is the 5th and 6th Trumpets.
5th Trumpet: Scholars suggest this is not a literal star but a person. Who is the star? Suggestions are Nero, the devil, Satan, an angel, or even Jesus. Some believe it’s an angel. Whether the angel is good or bad depends on if the angel is the same angel at in 9:11. If they are the same, then the angel is evil. If not, then the angel could be a good angel sent to administer the judgments on earth.
Because the star is fallen, this suggests its Satan. However, because the star is given the key to the Abyss, it can’t be Satan because Satan is not the ruler of Hell, God is.
What is the Abyss? Probably Hell. The abyss is a prison for certain demons (Luke 8:31, 2 Peter 2:4, and Jude 6). It is located inside the earth (Eph.4:9) and as we will learn it serves as the holding cell for all unsaved disembodied spirits (Rev.20:13-15).
Fun Fact: The Greek word means “very deep” or “bottomless” and the Hebrew word means “primeval deep”. This word occurs 9 times in the New Testament and 8 times in the book of Revelation.
Smoke represents divine judgment used as well in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:28).
The key is the power over the Abyss. Since Jesus possesses the key (Rev 1:18) some scholars see the star as Jesus handing over the key to Satan to unleash his demons upon the earth in judgment. Jesus is described as the morning star (Rev 22:16).
These demons probably won’t be seen by mankind (Ephesians 6:11-22). John sees them only because they are revealed to him. Thus, man may only see the destruction of the demons which would be natural disasters. Hence, it’s easy to see why at the end the survivors still don’t turn to God. They just don’t “see.”
The locusts are symbolic as evinced by their resembling something other than locusts. They are symbolic of the demons that will be allowed to enter earth. Locusts are agents of God’s judgment (Exodus 10:4-14, Deuteronomy 28:38, 1 Kings 8:37, 2 Chronicles 7:13, Joel 1:4, 2:2-9; Nah.3:15-17, and Amos 4:9). They will be an army.
The people are tortured to bring them to repentance (verse 20-21). They will not die. Scorpions stings rarely kill. Why not? Perhaps in God’s infinite grace, He is giving them a foreshadow of death in hopes some will still repent.
Why 5 months? The lifespan of a locust is 5 months. Hence, for as long as the locusts live, they will be tortured.
The repetition of “like” means it was hard to describe and therefore not exact. This is the time of the Great Tribulation. Locusts have no king (Proverbs 30:27)–another reason they aren’t literal.
The king is Satan.
“Woe” is from Rev 8:13.
Preterist interpretation: The suffering represents the Roman siege against Jerusalem from 66-70 AD. The locusts is the Roman empire (crowns on their heads). The beast represents the Roman Empire (Rev 11 & 13:1-8; 17:7-11). This concludes that the object of God’s wrath is the Jewish nation and has already taken place with no future meaning.
The three woes are:
1) invasion of the locust-demons torturing rather than killing man
2) Another demonic invasion and an earthquake that destroys a tenth of Jerusalem following the death and resurrection of God’s two witnesses (Rev.11:14)
3) The inhabitants of the earth will experience Satan’s fury as he is banished (Rev.12:12).
The servants of God (those were the seal) are only exempt from the first woe.
6th Trumpet: The horns of the golden altar are the prayers of God’s people. In the tabernacle, the golden altar was of incense or the people’s prayers. Those fleeing judgment could seek mercy by taking a hold of the horns (1 Kings 1:50-51; 2:28).
Are these the 4 angels from Rev 7:1? Scholars are unsure. We do know they are divinely appointed to carry out God’s will.
The Tigris and Euphrates River was the cradle of civilization and the first place nomads settled down. In the Bible, it’s probably where the Garden of Eden was located. Here, the firsts occurred: first settlement, first sin, first murder, first revolt against God, first war, etc. Here, it marks the boundary of Babylon and was the extent of the Promised Land. The Assyrian and Babylonian empires centered around Mesopotamia and were the historic enemies of Israel. In fact, they still are today as Syria and Iraq are now the name of the countries. Note the people never changed; just the name.
God works on a specific timetable (verse 15). We just don’t know it.
Again, the horsemen are demons. The number is meant to be infinite. Most scholars agree this is a demon army sent to kill humans, released by the 6th angel on the command of the voice (God or Jesus).
Amazing how man never learns and keeps right on sinning. Scary too. How much we rely on our eyes and when we can’t “see”, we don’t believe. Why God calls us to believe; it’s the hardest thing we will ever have to do.