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Revelation Chapter 9
- Trumpets 5 and 6

Revelation chapter 9 starts with the fifth trumpet which is also called the first woe. Before we get into that, I thought I would offer a little bit of review and perspective.

Trumpets will announce that the hour of judgment has started in heaven. Judgment begins at the house of God; the 144,000 are sealed.

The events following each of trumpets 1-4 are caused by Satan and will devastate the heavens, earth, sea and springs of water. People will be terrified because of these calamities.

This may sound strange as we see that the trumpets were given by God to angels (Rev 8:2). However, take note that in each case the trumpet first sounds and then destructive events follow. See the page on Revelation 8 for more details on this.

The trumpets themselves are messages originating from God to warn the world. The 144,000 give the first angel's message - to fear God who made heaven, earth, the sea and fountains of waters rather than the physical disasters happening to them. The message also includes that the hour of judgment has come.

Everyone will be afraid of something. If people fear natural disasters and threats of other people then they will live in constant fear. If they choose to fear (respect) and trust God then He will give them perfect peace (Isa 26:3). They will learn that they really can trust and depend fully on Him.

Major Events

We have looked at trumpets 1-4 and saw them as mainly physical events. I believe the trumpets relationship to other major end time events looks like this:

  1. Judgment begins with the house of God
  2. Trumpets, 3 angels messages,counterfeit plagues
  3. False second coming
  4. Seven last plagues
  5. True second coming
  6. Millennium (wicked are dead, saved in heaven)
  7. Final great white throne judgment

Revelation's trumpets will sound warnings to the people of the earth. Satan, knowing his time is short, will react with great fury and bring destruction and deception in a last attempt to deceive as many as he can while the messages of Revelation 14 are bringing people to their last decision. Think of it as campaigning for an election campaign complete with dirty tricks. Here is how the three angel's messages of Revelation 14 fit in with the trumpets of Revelation 8 and 9.

Trumpets (Rev. 8-9)
Three Angels (Rev. 14)
Comment
#1- hail, fire blood cast on
earth: 1/3 trees, all grass
burnt
#2- mountain burning with
fire was cast into the sea:
1/3 sea became blood;
1/3 creatures in sea died;
1/3 ships destroyed.
#3- star burning as a lamp,
fell on 1/3 of rivers, and
fountains of waters;
many men died
#4- 1/3 sun, moon, stars
smitten, darkened, day and
night shone not for a 1/3 part
(1st angel - v7)
Fear God, and
give glory to him;
for the hour of
his judgment is
come and
worship him
that made
heaven, and
earth, and the
sea, and the
fountains of waters.
The trumpets
are warning
messages
from God.
The following
destruction is
Satan's
reaction to them.
Fear God rather than
the things
happening
around you.
#5 (woe #1) locusts - exponential multiplication
of false doctrine
(2nd angel - v8)
Babylon is fallen
because of her
false doctrine
(wine)
The message
must be to
counteract
the deception.
#6 (woe #2) close of probation -
"repented not of the works
of their hands ...
neither repented they of
their ..." (v20-21)
(3rd angel - v10)
Don't worship the beast
or receive his mark
The final choice
will be between
the mark of the
beast and the
seal of God.
7 (woe #3) Second Coming (v14) Behold a
white cloud ...
the earth
was reaped (v16)
The last trump
(1 Cor 15:52)

With trumpet 5, something changes. The events are more symbolic. One key to understanding this chapter is to understand that the "woes" are more mental distress than physical hardship.

Many Symbols in Revelation Chapter 9

It is worth noting that, in this chapter, there are more occurrences of the words "as" and "like" than in any other chapter in not just Revelation but the whole Bible. This shows how difficult it was for John to describe what he saw. Perhaps he was seeing things that he had no words to describe. Perhaps it is largely symbolic.

"Woes" are not so much physically worse (not just bad things but higher on a Richter-like disaster scale) as they are different; they are more mental/spiritual than they are physical.

It is interesting that animals react to stress (danger) physiologically whereas humans react psychologically. If a zebra gets chased by a lion his pulse and respiration and adrenaline all shoot up. If he escapes they all quickly drop down and he goes back to eating grass. He isn't all upset for the rest of the day and telling the rest of the herd "do you know what almost happened to me?"

A woe may be only a perceived or expected threat or only mental anguish but to humans it can hurt very much. Mental anguish can be much worse than a physical injury.

People are going to be in a very high degree of stress when all these things begin to happen. Our health message and personal health is going to be very important. And, of course, our mental and spiritual state. While the world is experiencing woe, we can have eager anticipation because we are nearing home.

We will start our verse-by-verse look at Revelation chapter 9 and attempt to understand its symbols by first looking at Revelation 8:13 as the more natural chapter break is between chapter 8 verses 12 and 13.

"And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!" (Rev 8:13)

John says "I beheld" as though introducing a new scene. He seems to be warning that the events following the last three of the trumpets will be worse than for the first four.

The Fallen Star
"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." (Rev 9:1)

The majority of translations I have seen express this fall in the past tense: "which had fallen," or "had fallen." Jesus' statement seems to put it in the past:

"And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." (Luke 10:18)

"I saw a star fall from heaven" can be understood as explained for Revelation 8:10 Other verses which connect the star to Satan include Isa 14:12, Rev 9:11, 12:7-10.

This "fall from heaven" is not a literal fall (due to gravity) but a fall as in a loss of position, a demotion. There is an interesting word connection here - the first demotion to ever happen resulted in a demon. He was given the opportunity to demonstrate his way of doing things in contrast to God's ways so that all would be able to see the results of turning from God.

The Key

This fallen star is now given the key to the bottomless pit, the abyss. It is Jesus who Revelation pictures as the one originally holding keys:

"I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." (Rev 1:18)

Receiving the key of the abyss implies receiving power or authority over the abyss. We see something similar at the time of the millennium:

"And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years. And he cast him into the abyss and shut him up and set a seal on him, that he should deceive the nations no more until the thousand years should be fulfilled. And after that he must be loosed a little time." (Rev 20:1-3)

We can see in a study of the millennium of Revelation 20 that this bottomless pit is not primarily a place of confinement so much as it is a set of circumstances by which Satan's activities are restricted. In Revelation 20, it is a figurative key causing a figurative binding that results in a literal restriction of Satan's activities. Here, it is Satan receiving liberty to release something upon the world.

The Pit

The bottomless pit is not a good place to come out of:

"The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is." (Rev 17:8)

The pit is where the demonic forces have been somehow confined.

"And they (the demons) besought him (Jesus) that he would not command them to go out into the deep (G12, abussos)." (Luke 8:31)

How did the demons come to be there in the first place? Peter describes the result of their sin:

"For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness (G2217), to be reserved unto judgment;" (2 Pet 2:4)

The word "hell" in this verse is from the Greek "tartaros" and is used only once in Bible. Again, it is not likely literal chains and perhaps not even a literal place so much as a restriction on their activities.

Where Did Satan Fall From?

Here is a parallel verse

"And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation (G3613), he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." (Jude 1:6)

Let's compare the two verses:

2 Peter 2:4
Jude 1:6
angels that sinned angels which kept not their first estate
cast them down to hell left their own habitation
delivered them into chains reserved in everlasting chains
of darkness under darkness
to be reserved unto judgment unto the judgment of the great day

This act of the angels to leave their first estate looks like a voluntary action on their part which was followed by an act of God in response to their choice. God does not force anyone to sin and He does not force the will - even that of angels.

Could "cast them down to hell" be a description of God allowing them to leave their own habitation? Of course, "hell" in the Bible is not a place of literal torment.

"Habitation" is an interesting word; it is "oiketerion" (G3613) and comes from "oikeo" (Strong's G3611) which means "to dwell" and is often used of not a person dwelling in a place but of something dwelling in a person as in:

"Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth (H3611, oikeo) in me." (Rom 7:17)

(Also see: Rom 7:18,20; 8:9,11; 1 Cor 3:16)

Could the angels leaving their habitation suggest that they severed their relationship with God; that the Spirit of God no longer dwells in them? Here is a passage that seems to relate to this:

"While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house (3614, oikia) of this tabernacle were dissolved (destroyed), we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house (G3613, oiketerion) which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life." (2 Cor 4:18-5:4)

This passage contrasts a number of things:

2 Corinthians 4:18 - 5:4
things which are seen things which are not seen
temporal eternal
earthly house of this tabernacle building of God ... in the heavens
in this (body, state) we groan desiring heavenly habitation
naked (no robe of light?) being clothed (with light)
mortality (eternal) life

Cleary, these verses are describing two different states, one mortal and one immortal. Satan and his angels really fell from the state of their original relationship to God to a new state where they were separated from Him.

The Smoke
"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." (Rev 9:2)

The bottomless pit is opened to release the smoke which, in Revelation, usually relates to judgment, doom, and torment (9:17, 18; 18:9; 19:3). There is another obvious example of judgment that even uses the same phrase "smoke of a furnace."

"And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace." (Gen 19:28)

There is one other interesting example of this phrase:

"And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly." (Exo 19:18)

Is there a suggestion here of a relationship to the giving of the law at Mount Sinai?

Satan Loosed

It seems that this might be referring to a loosening of the restrictions of the activities of Satan and his demons.

We naturally tend to think of the pit as a place. But it might be more correct to understand it as the circumstances or restrictions Satan and his angels are kept in so that their powers are limited. We know they are able to tempt and annoy people but perhaps they are limited in other ways as far as how much they can have an actual direct physical effect on people and events on this planet.

Today, demon possession is not something we encounter or hear about very much. Real cases of it occur when a person, through their lifestyle and rejection of truth, invite/allow demonic influence.

Paul, writing in the context of falsehoods, warns of Satan and his agents:

"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." (2 Cor 11:13-15)

Satan and his angels have been limited in what they can do. They are able to tempt and annoy people but they have not generally been free to appear on earth as literal, physical beings until the 5th trumpet.

The devil

When they do appear will they be dressed in red suits, carrying pitch forks and smelling like a fresh-lit match? - No; it is all about deception. Remember, when Jesus was asked by His disciples in Matthew 24:

"... what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (Matt 24:3)

His answer covered quite a few signs but the very first thing he said was:

"... Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many." (Matt 24:4-5)

Satan and his angels will not appear as the evil demons they are but instead will appear as Jesus and His millions of heavenly angels. They will disguise ("transform") themselves as holy angels and will appear and convince people that Jesus has returned.

Satan will claim that he and his angels have come to save people from the awful judgments that have come upon the world during the first four trumpets. He will tell people that all they have to do is worship him and he will protect and save them.

One of the first things Satan and his demons will do when they arrive here on earth is to set up a worldwide kingdom. In the Bible, this kingdom is called Babylon. They will tell people that Jesus has come to set up His earthly kingdom for 1,000 years and that everyone should join.

Most people, having the incorrect belief that the millennium is a thousand-year period spent on earth will be more readily deceived. The correct understanding of the Biblical millennium is actually quite different than that.

As in the story of Job, Satan will do all he can to set things up so that it appears that people are being afflicted because of their sins. And the commandments and obedience will be promoted, however, it will Satan's altered version of them. In the past, he has thought "to change times and laws" (Dan 7:25) ultimately leading to the mark of the beast. (Of course, he won't call it that.)

Locusts
"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." (Rev 9:3)

Emerging from this smoke is a terrible invasion of locusts, sufficient to block the sun (verse 2) as did the locusts in the 8th plague of Egypt :

"For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt." (Exo 10:15)

Darkness can accompany swarms of locusts as they block the sky. Locusts are agents of destruction that are a consequence of not following God (Exo 10:4-14, Deut 28:38, 1 Kings 8:37, 2 Chron 7:13 and Joel 1:4).

This could be a spiritual darkness equivalent to the obscuring of the gospel and when men reject truth, they are tormented by evil forces. Could it be that Satan will claim that he and his angels have come to save people from the awful judgments that have come upon the world during the first four trumpets of Revelation 8? He will tell people that all they have to do is worship him his way and he will protect and save them. Remember, Satan is all about deception and setting himself up as God to receive worship.

This verse is evidence that the locusts of Revelation 9 are not literally locusts.

"And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such." (Exo 10:14)

We will see more evidence as we go on that these are not literal locusts. These are no ordinary locusts because instead of attacking plants, they attack and torment people.

The "power" these locusts are given is from the Greek word "exousia" (G1849) which means "authority." The power that the scorpions have is further explained in verse 10 where it is said that "their power was to hurt men."

This is happening in an end-time setting. Could this granting of authority or permission be a loosening of restrictions on the activities of Satan and his demons? Think of the situation in the story of Job where stage-by-stage more and more liberty was given to Satan to afflict Job and this was allowed, in part, to demonstrate Job's loyalty to God.

God, speaking to Ezekiel, described him as dwelling among scorpions:

"And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: ..." (Eze 2:6)

The people Ezekiel lived with were described in the same passage as:

  1. rebellious nation (v 3)
  2. they and their fathers have transgressed against me (v3)
  3. impudent children and stiffhearted (v4)
  4. a rebellious house." (v 5,6)

These locusts have the power to attack and torment people like scorpions (a metaphor used by Jesus):

"Behold, I give unto you power (G1849, exousia = authority) to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power (G1411, dunamis= strength) of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you." (Luke 10:19)

"Serpents and scorpions" are used in parallel with "all the power of the enemy:"

Power was promised to tread on:

serpents and scorpions
and
over all the power of the enemy

Do you think that, in the last days, we are going to be concerned about serpents and scorpions? Scorpions don't even live around here. I had a pet one in a little tank for a time and, while it could probably sting like some other insects, it certainly wasn't something to be terrified about.

Paul pointed out that:

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Eph 6:12)

And Peter wrote:

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:" (1 Pet 5:8)

Our concern is not over some lowly arachnid that hides under rocks but over the enemy of souls who is actively seeking to destroy us.

Look Out for Those Locusts
"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." (Rev 9:4)

"It was commended them." This seems to be a restriction placed upon their activities, specifically on who they could hurt.

The first four trumpets are each followed by literal events that act on nature (they will get people's attention); the last three act directly on humanity.

Remember, that one third of the trees and grass were burnt up as a result of the first trumpet (Rev 8:7). If the trees and grass in verse 4 represent people, they would seem to be people who do have the seal of God.

The people who are affected are described in verses 20-21 which we will get to later.

"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." (Rev 9:5)

"As" the torment of a scorpion. A locust has no stinger. It must be a symbolic locust which is likened to a symbolic scorpion. These demonic "locusts" cause extreme psychological torment.

There is an interesting possible connection to the appointed times (the feasts) here. There are approximately five months from Pentecost to the fall feasts. Remember, we just had the reference, in verse 2, to the smoke of a furnace and we connected that to the giving of the law at Pentecost on Mt. Sinai. Could this relate to the giving of a false law? - just a thought that might be worthy of more study.

"And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them." (Rev 9:6)

The torment will be so bad that men will "seek death." Is this a desire to commit suicide? Is it talking about people somehow trying to commit suicide but being supernaturally prevented from doing it?

Or could it be referring to their choices? Here is a passage that seems to be very similar:

"At that time, saith the LORD, they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of his princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their graves: And they shall spread them before the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, whom they have loved, and whom they have served, and after whom they have walked, and whom they have sought, and whom they have worshipped: they shall not be gathered, nor be buried; they shall be for dung upon the face of the earth. And death shall be chosen rather than life by all the residue of them that remain of this evil family, which remain in all the places whither I have driven them, saith the LORD of hosts. Moreover thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD; Shall they fall, and not arise? shall he turn away, and not return? Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return. I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle." (Jer 8:1-6)

"As the horse rusheth into the battle" is kind of interesting. What does it imply or suggest? Perhaps no turning back.

This is in contrast to those who seek life:

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt 6:33)
"I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:" (Deut 30:19)
The Strangest-Looking Locusts You Have Ever Seen
"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." (Rev 9:7-10)

Remember, in chapter 8, we identified the 4 horses described there as 4 groups of people. Notice that the horses here were "prepared unto battle" (v7) "and running to battle" (v9) they are not actually in battle.

There has been much speculation on the meaning of "the hair of women," "the teeth of lions" and the "breastplates of iron." Note the many uses of "as" and "like" in these verses:

  1. Locusts were like unto ...
  2. As it were crowns ...
  3. Faces were as ...
  4. Hair as the ...
  5. Teeth were as ...
  6. As it were breastplates ...
  7. As the sound of ...
  8. Tails like unto ...

It seems that John did not have the words to describe what he saw so, from his comparisons, it is difficult to conclude exactly what he saw. Some have seen these as something like helicopters partly because helicopters are sometimes referred to by the military as locusts and scorpions. Also the sound of helicopters might be closer to that of horses running.

Again, we have the period of 5 months mentioned as in verse 5. The locusts are further said to have "tails like unto scorpions" and stings, and power (authority) in their tails to torment the people. The tail is a symbol of the deception by means of persuasion and temptation which Satan uses to mislead others to rebel against God and follow him:

"And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born." (Rev 12:4)

Prophets teaching falsehoods are referred to as the tail:

"The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail." (Isa 9:15)

Think of the word "tale." Satan's falsehoods (especially his false tale about the character of God) are being urged upon people at the same time the message is going out that Babylon (the false system of confusion) is fallen - people are being brought to the point of having to make a decision.

"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." (Rev 9:11)

Literal locusts do not have a king:

"The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands;" (Pro 30:27)

So, these symbolic insects, unlike the natural ones who act by instinct, have the ability to obey commands suggesting they possess intelligence with the power to distinguish what they should or should not "hurt." The command not to hurt literal grass, trees and green things would be impossible for a real locust to obey because that is what they naturally eat.

These locusts do have a king, a king who goes by the names Abaddon and Apollyon. These names mean "destruction" and "destroyer" in their respective languages. This "angel of the bottomless pit" is, without a doubt, Satan himself.

Babylon is Fallen

During this time, the second angel's message will be given - that Babylon is fallen:

"And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." (Rev 14:8)

Babylon is not referring to the literal, ancient city of Babylon of which a prophecy was made:

"And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there." (Isa 13:19-20)

If Babylon was never again to be inhabited, then the message must be talking of something else than the literal city of Babylon.

We talk of need to share the gospel, the truth with people, to tell them of the true character of God. But truth, especially at that time, will have to include that "Babylon is fallen."

What will that sound like? It will have to include the following:

  1. You have been lied to
  2. You have been following a false system
  3. This is who is behind it ...
  4. There has been an attempt to change God's law

These verses will be very applicable at that time:

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: " (1 Pet 5:8)
"... Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." (Rev 12:12)

"Woe" - doesn't that suggest a possible connection to the woes of chapter 9?

Satan is desperately trying to influence those still "sitting on the fence" just before the close of probation. What he is fighting so desperately is the truth being revealed by the second angel of Revelation 14 that he is the one who is masterminding the deception that is Babylon.

Probation Still Open
"One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter." (Rev 9:12)

This shows that the woes are definitely sequential. The second woe does not start until the first woe is finished.

"And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God," (Rev 9:13)

The golden altar is located in the holy place:

"And thou shalt set the altar of gold for the incense before the ark of the testimony, and put the hanging of the door to the tabernacle." (Exo 40:5)

Remember, brass in the courtyard, gold in the holy place. Since the setting is the holy place and not the most holy place, the timing is before the beginning of judgment - the setting for judgment is the most holy place. While the 144,000 have been sealed, they have not yet passed final judgment.

"Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates." (Rev 9:14)
The Hebrew from Beyond the River

The Euphrates was the river Abram crossed when he chose to follow God. Abram was called "the Hebrew" (Gen 14:13) a word which means "one from beyond" and is derived from Eber (or Heber, Strong's no. 5676) meaning "the region beyond" referring to beyond the Euphrates. The River Euphrates:

  1. was the dividing line between good and evil
  2. represents all the wicked associated with Babylon
  3. supported the ancient city of Babylon
"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." (Rev 9:15)

The message is given to the sixth angel, an angel of God but what about the four angels that are to be loosed - are they good or evil angels? Here are some clues:

  1. they slay 1/3 of mankind - good angels don't do that
  2. good angels are not bound
  3. they are associated with the River Euphrates

Not that the 4 angels were previously tied up but they are now "loosed" or "allowed" to do something they were not previously permitted to do.

This is similar to the situation in Revelation 20 where Satan is loosed:

"And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season." (Rev 20:3)

Also, remember the story of Job where Satan is allowed more and more freedom to afflict Job. At this point in Revelation, a third of men are killed - there is still some protection over the remainder.

A Span of Time or a Point in Time?

These four angels are said to be "prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year." The question is: were they prepared for a length of time or for a point in time? Here are a few thoughts:

  1. the margin of the KJV gives "at" as an alternate for the word "for"
  2. the Moffat translation says "for that" hour
  3. the Interlinear says "the" not "an"

These all seem to indicate a point in time rather than a span of time.

"And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them." (Rev 9:16)

We get into even more symbolism and uncertainty over meaning in the next few verses. Is this number, which we would refer to as two hundred million, a literal or a symbolic number? It is interesting that John refers to two groups in Revelation in the same way. He says "I heard the number of them" of both the 144,000 and the 200,000,000.

"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." (Rev 9:17)

Many Bible versions will include colors in this verse indicating:

  1. blue hyacinth or jacinth
  2. yellow brimstone and
  3. red fire
"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. "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." (Rev 9:18-19)

The text indicates that the men were killed by the fire, smoke and brimstone which are identified as plagues (v 20).

Their power (or effectiveness) was in their mouths and they hurt with their tails. The discussion of verse 10 mentions the connection with tails to deception - the same may apply here.

Repented Not
"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:" (Rev 9:20)

Those who survive the fire, smoke and brimstone do not repent of their sins which in verse 20 are all sins against God; sins involving worship and idolatry.

"Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts." (Rev 9:21)

In this verse, the sins mentioned are sins against other people. The word "sorceries" (also used in Rev 18:23) is translated from the Greek "pharmakeia" from which the word pharmacy is derived. Some versions even translate "sorceries" here as "drugs." Surely drugs, both prescription and illicit, have had a great effect in ruining lives.

What is the significance of the words "repented not"? It seems to imply that they are free to repent but choose not to. There are two possibilities in connection with the close of probation.

1. They are not able to or allowed to repent because probation has closed. However, it does not make sense that God would prevent anyone from repenting or cut off any opportunity to do so:

"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Pet 3:9)

2. They choose not to repent and this "hardening of their hearts" provides justification for the close of probation. Essentially, God would be saying: "Their minds were made up so let them be that way." This matches a verse later in Revelation which appears to be declaring a close of probation:

"He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still." (Rev 22:11)

This is not a decree saying that if you are unjust or filthy you have to stay that way, that your free will is cut off or that your fate is determined beyond your choice. Rather, it is saying something more like "everyone has taken sides, they have made up their minds, we can now get on with the next stage." Like when everyone has cast their ballot, you move on to the next phase.

This concept is also implied in this verse:

"Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone." (Hos 4:17)
 


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The Greek has multiple words for forgiveness? God forgives (charizomai) whether we ask or not. Receiving forgiveness (apheimi) is by our choice.
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