V11Then the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him.. The star that John sees when the fifth angel sounds is already on the earth. He does not see that star falling from heaven, but he knows that it came from heaven down to the earth. As well as in chapter 8 (Rev 8:1010The third angel sounded, and a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of waters.) as in this verse it is about a star from heaven on the earth. In both cases you see a power that once had been a recognized person of authority with a religious character, but now has fallen and has been degraded. It acts whether under satanic influence (Rev 8:1010The third angel sounded, and a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of waters.) or as satan himself (in this verse).
The star is given “the key of the bottomless pit”. The possession of a key means the possession of power over a territory to which the key gives access (Rev 1:1818and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.; 3:77“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:). Here it is about “the bottomless pit”. The star therefore has power over the dark forces of the bottomless pit. The star therefore seems to be a symbolic presentation of satan. The dark forces of the bottomless pit have satan as king (verse 1111They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon.). The bottomless pit is the place where at this moment the evil is still being kept in control. When satan gets the keys he will let loose these evil forces, as the next verses show. When God has achieved His purpose with this loosening He will lock up all evil forces, including satan, for a thousand years (Rev 20:1-31Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.2And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;3and he threw him into the abyss, and shut [it] and sealed [it] over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.).
V22He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit.. The star opens up the bottomless pit. The bottomless pit is the lowest, most depraved source of evil, from where the worst danger comes out. Up to this moment that pit had been closed, for the worst evil could not manifest itself yet. But once the pit has been opened, the swarms of evil spirits will be released and they will flood the earth. They will wrap themselves in a “smoke” like “the smoke of a great furnace”.
It is a black, heavy smoke that causes an eclipse of the sun. Besides the light the smoke takes away also the warmth. The smokes works like a suffocating blanket and takes away all the oxygen. The smoke takes away everything that supplies light and warmth (the sun) and it defiles the spiritual atmosphere of the human society (the air). A spiritual darkness falls down upon men, which causes them to lose any sight of and insight in a healthy society.
V33Then out of the smoke came locusts upon the earth, and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power.. That it is not about a usual smoke, even it is extremely heavy and black, appears also from what comes out of it. The smoke that arises up from the pit appears to be a means of transport of “locusts”. The locusts represent satanic powers (Exo 10:12-2012Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up on the land of Egypt and eat every plant of the land, [even] all that the hail has left.”13So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the LORD directed an east wind on the land all that day and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.14The locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled in all the territory of Egypt; [they were] very numerous. There had never been so [many] locusts, nor would there be so [many] again.15For they covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was darkened; and they ate every plant of the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Thus nothing green was left on tree or plant of the field through all the land of Egypt.16Then Pharaoh hurriedly called for Moses and Aaron, and he said, “I have sinned against the LORD your God and against you.17Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once, and make supplication to the LORD your God, that He would only remove this death from me.”18He went out from Pharaoh and made supplication to the LORD.19So the LORD shifted [the wind] to a very strong west wind which took up the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea; not one locust was left in all the territory of Egypt.20But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the sons of Israel go.; Joel 1:4-74What the gnawing locust has left, the swarming locust has eaten;
And what the swarming locust has left, the creeping locust has eaten;
And what the creeping locust has left, the stripping locust has eaten.
5Awake, drunkards, and weep;
And wail, all you wine drinkers,
On account of the sweet wine
That is cut off from your mouth.
6For a nation has invaded my land,
Mighty and without number;
Its teeth are the teeth of a lion,
And it has the fangs of a lioness.
7It has made my vine a waste
And my fig tree splinters.
It has stripped them bare and cast [them] away;
Their branches have become white.
). These insects destroy everything they come across.
The atmosphere of the thick smoke of the previous verse is a paradise for powers that like locusts destroy all life and like scorpions torment people. Someone who has been stung by a scorpion will be completely restless and driven to total insanity, as long as the poison is active. This will happen to the Jews as a result of their rejection of God in their Messiah (Deu 28:28,6528The LORD will smite you with madness and with blindness and with bewilderment of heart;65Among those nations you shall find no rest, and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot; but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and despair of soul.; Mt 12:43-4543“Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find [it].44Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds [it] unoccupied, swept, and put in order.45Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.”).
V44They were told not to 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 powers of darkness will be released. They will rise up by swarms from the bottomless pit in order to do all they can, namely sowing death and destruction. Still, they cannot be undisturbed in whatever they want to do. They only can and are permitted to do what God wants to use them for. Therefore a limitation is imposed on them. The limitation is to such a great extent that actually only one purpose is left for them. They are allowed to carry out their pernicious work to “the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads”.
This indication seems to show that this very judgment of the fifth trumpet, specifically strikes the ungodly mass of the Jewish people. You have seen in chapter 7 that out of Israel one hundred and forty-four thousand people were sealed. Now you see the purpose of it. It is a warranty against the deceptive and pernicious spirits from the bottomless pit. The apostate Jews are the object of the judgment, because they have obtained more knowledge of God than other people, but have thrown that knowledge away by their rejection of God’s Messiah.
V55And 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.. Besides a limitation of the territory over which they can assert their wicked power, also a limitation is imposed on these spiritual forces for the practice of causing pain and for the duration of the practice of their power. This pain is extremely severe. It will make people desire to die. The duration is relatively short, namely five months. But you may know from experience how long a relatively short time can be when you are suffering extreme pains from moment to moment. It is remarkable that this duration is strikingly the same as the normal lifetime of the locusts, which is also five months.
By the way, you can see a proof of God’s mercy in the fact that the apostates are not immediately killed. Due to this ‘suspension’ the individual still has the chance to repent. The fact that this chance is not taken shows how much man has hardened his heart. However severe the pain of the scorpion’s sting may be, man refuses to consider going to God and begging Him for mercy (verse 2020The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk;; Rev 16:99Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory.).
V66And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death flees from them.. The sting of the scorpion is not a literal sting, as neither are the scorpions. Also the locusts are not literal locusts. It is about symbols of creatures that will operate in an extremely sadistic way. They will have a satanic pleasure, according to their nature, in tormenting people in a way that these people will seek to die, for they think that in that way they can escape the torturing pains. But death, the last weapon of satan, withdraws itself from them, so that the tortures remain.
The torture that is caused consists of diabolical doctrines that will torture people in their heart and conscience from which they cannot escape. The control of demonic influences is a result of having opened up themselves for occultism, spiritualism, sorcery and fortune-telling. These movements find more and more followers. People who surrender themselves to it will be struck with insanity. They will try to commit suicide in order to escape, but they will not succeed.
V77The appearance of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle; and on their heads appeared to be crowns like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men.. Then a description of these demonic powers follows. From this description it appears that they love war and are aggressive. Horses are a good symbol for that. In some countries locusts are called ‘little horses’ because of the similarity of their head to that of a horse (cf. Job 39:2323“The quiver rattles against him,
The flashing spear and javelin.
). They are also not to be stopped, but they move on triumphantly, which you can derive from what you see on their heads – something “appeared to be crowns like gold”. It also indicates that they claim royal dignity.
That “their faces were like faces of men”, means that they operate with insight. This insight they gained by their familiarity with people for ages. They present their doctrines, which cause pernicious, unbearable pain, very acceptably and humanly (human rights, rights of children, rights of privacy), but with the intention to dethrone God. Behind this ‘human face’ demonic powers are hidden who cover their true nature.
V88They had hair like the hair of women, and their teeth were like [the teeth] of lions.. Another characteristic of them is that they have “hair like the hair of women”. There is no doubt that it is about long hair. The ‘material’ is after all not different from that of man. When you look at what is written about the long hair of the woman in 1 Corinthians 11 (1Cor 11:4-164Every man who has [something] on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head.5But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved.6For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.7For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.8For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man;9for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.10Therefore the woman ought to have [a symbol of] authority on her head, because of the angels.11However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.12For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man [has his birth] through the woman; and all things originate from God.13Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God [with her head] uncovered?14Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him,15but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.16But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.), you can discover in relation to this remark two aspects in the performance of these creatures.
In the first place their performance is charming, attractive, as long hair is the woman’s adornment, her attractiveness. In the second place this proves that it is not about independent powers here, that operate on their own, but that they are in reality subjected to their chief, which is satan. That they are subjected to satan, is expressed by “their teeth were like [the teeth] of lions”, which indicates that their performance has the savage, cruel and tearing power of lions.
V99They had breastplates like breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to battle.. Besides their brutal cruelty they are inviolable too for any resistance. Their iron harness shows their invulnerability. It also shows their insensitiveness, their heartlessness, the total absence of mercy. A conscience is something that they do not have or when they do, it is seared. The noise of their appearance is frightening (Joel 2:4-64Their appearance is like the appearance of horses;
And like war horses, so they run.
5With a noise as of chariots
They leap on the tops of the mountains,
Like the crackling of a flame of fire consuming the stubble,
Like a mighty people arranged for battle.
6Before them the people are in anguish;
All faces turn pale.
). Their goal is war without compassion. They are aggravated by satan, while they cause terror and fear to their victims.
V1010They have tails like scorpions, and stings; and in their tails is their power to hurt men for five months.. The description closes with another indication that the main thing here for them is to harm people and that they have a limited period of time for that. But the sting is in the tail, which becomes clear here. The tail represents false doctrines (Isa 9:1515The head is the elder and honorable man,
And the prophet who teaches falsehood is the tail.
). They cause spiritual damage by spreading false doctrines, which cause an enormous torment. The sting comes from the pit. Dogmas, doctrines and principles that come from the bottomless pit are accepted by the apostate part of Israel and cause unbearable agonies in their souls and conscience.
V1111They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon.. That they are under the control of a leader and therefore are neither independent nor operating by their own insight appears from verse 1111They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon.. “The angel of the abyss” is their “king”. They are under his government. He is the controlling intelligence and the hidden organizer of these pernicious battle orders. His name is written in both Hebrew and Greek. Probably his Hebrew name refers to the relation to the antichrist with the apostate Jewish people and his Greek name to the relation with the apostate Christianity.
The names have one same meaning: Abaddon means ‘destruction’ and refers more to the result of his work. Apollyon means ‘destroyer’ and refers more to the person himself. No one else than satan can be meant here (Jn 8:4444You are of [your] father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own [nature], for he is a liar and the father of lies.). He is the angel of the bottomless pit, represented in the star (cf. Isa 14:1212“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!
) which fell down from heaven (verse 11Then the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him.). The antichrist and the beast are animated by him.
V1212The first woe is past; behold, two woes are still coming after these things.. An end has come to the first woe, the fifth trumpet. Actually, the disasters that were caused by the locusts from the bottomless pit would last for just five months. It is possible that there is a short break before the next ‘woe’ sounds. Thereafter a third ‘woe’ is to come. That only happens in chapter 11 when the seventh angel sounds the trumpet (Rev 11:15-1815Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become [the kingdom] of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”16And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God,17saying, “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.18And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time [came] for the dead to be judged, and [the time] to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.”).
With the cry “behold” more attention is focused on the two times that after this another ‘woe’ is to come. How terrible the first ‘woe’ has been, still both other woes are yet to come. The second ‘woe’ is the sixth trumpet and is again related to the Roman empire, which is connected to the second (the Greek) name of the previous verse. After the judgment over the apostate Jews under the first ‘woe’ follows the judgment under the second ‘woe’ over the apostate Christians.
Now read Revelation 9:1-12 again.
Reflection: Do you already observe the destructive influences in your environment? How can you recognize them?