Chapter Nine Summary: Repent!

Image above in the public domain “The Adoration of the Golden Calf” by Nicolas Poussin.

Revelation 9

20 The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, 21 nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

The last paragraph in Revelation 9 gives us the intent of the Fifth and Sixth Trumpet judgments —

The judgments of God even though severe are intended to bring men to repentance.

I. Mankind’s attempt to satisfy its desires apart from God and His ways ends up creating false religion.

Revelation 9:20-21 gives us a view of the religion of evil times. It affords us a rare look into the heathen society in which John lived in the First Century and the one in which we live in the Twenty-first Century.

False religion involves idolatry which is in reality the worship of demons — I Corinthians 10 —

18 Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. [ESV]

Colossians 3:5 underlines the same warning about substituting false gods for the worship of the true God —

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. [NIV]

Behind an idol is a demon manipulating the circumstances of the worshiper.


1909 painting The Worship of Mammon (or wealth) by Evelyn De Morgan

The power of the idol is dependent upon the trust the person places in it. The worshiper will appease the idol and place trust in it to avert danger from his own life. All the while, the demon is making things happen to buttress the person’s confidence in the idol. It is a vicious cycle. In the West, the idols are wealth and materialism which create envy and greed.

This idolatry/demonic element is evident when visiting developing countries. Animistic practices bring about bondage to people who are not committed to Jesus Christ as Lord. In the West, we think we have outgrown such superstitions. Read the story of a Vietnamese family who turned to Christ.

After a [Vietnamese] friend shared Jesus with…Thuan* and his wife Hien*, they chose to also follow Jesus—at great risk. The couple lives in an area of northern Vietnam where believing in Jesus rather than traditional beliefs—including ancestor worship—is considered a betrayal not only to the family, but also to their whole ethnic identity.

A few days after Thuan and Hien became Christians, local authorities came to their home and told the couple they must return to ancestor worship, or they would be kicked out of the village. The authorities also pressured Thuan and Hien’s relatives to threaten the couple and try to convince them to leave their newfound faith.

But Thuan and Hien refused. As a result, the family now lives in isolation, shunned by their community after the village chief publicly denounced them and their new beliefs. Even children in the village are banned from interacting with Thuan and Hien’s kids. The family has lost everything because they have chosen to follow Jesus. On September, 30 a group of relatives, villagers and local authorities destroyed the family’s house, fruit trees and killed or stole their livestock. [See Open Doors, below.]

Idolaters hate those who worship the true God. However, “Their arms are too short to box with God.” James Weldon Johnson (pictured below) sought to capture in poetry the cadence and rhythms of gifted black preachers of the past in his book God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse [African-American instead of “negro” is more acceptable today.] — 

James_Weldon_Johnson Wikipedia

Portrait from Wikimedia Commons

The Prodigal Son

Young man —
Young man —
Your arm’s too short to box with God. …

There comes a time,
There comes a time
When ev’ry young man looks out from his father’s house,
Longing for that far-off country [Babylon]. …

Oh-o-oh, sinner,
When you’re mingling with the crowd in Babylon —
Drinking the wine of Babylon —
Running with the women of Babylon —
You forget about God, and you laugh at Death.
Today you’ve got the strength of a bull in your neck
And the strength of a bear in your arms,
But some o’ these days, some o’ these days,
You’ll have a hand-to-hand struggle with bony Death,
And Death is bound to win.

Prodigal son Pompeo_Batoni_003

The Return of the Prodigal Son (1773) by Pompeo Batoni

Young man, come away from Babylon,
That hell-border city of Babylon.
Leave the dancing and gambling of Babylon,
The wine and whiskey of Babylon,
The hot-mouthed women of Babylon;
Fall down on your knees,
And say in your heart:
I will arise and go to my Father. [See Johnson, J. W., below] 

I shared this poem with a class in the early 2000s. They said that they had wondered why people read that at Church during black history month. The church hadn’t explained the readings to the hearers. Tradition had become traditionalism. “Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. And, I suppose I should add, it is traditionalism that gives tradition such a bad name.” (see Pelikan below.) Modern preaching in both black and white mainline churches is not as it once was! Both have become a blind following of tradition wedded to the spirit of this age. Faithful preaching must always call for repentance and a return to God through Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is central in the lives of His people! He supplies all we need.

II. We are created by God to worship and serve Him alone.


St. Augustine by Carlo Crivelli ca. AD 1478

St. Augustine of Hippo stated this well in his Confessions — “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.” [See St. Augustine below] 

Mankind is incurably religious by nature. Blaise Pascal gives us this concept best —

What else does this craving [for God], and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself. [See Pascal below.] 


Blaise Pascal Augustin Pajou, 1785, Louvre

What did Pascal mean? “As one can see, when God created humans, he wanted them to look around for Him and search for Him. This is one of God’s plans, and in doing so, He created this “hole” [in man’s soul] that cannot be filled by any other; in short, that ‘God-shaped hole’ was created by God for us to look for Him [to fill it].” [See God-shaped Hole, below.] 

III. God’s intransigent opponents refuse to repent and worship Him, the true and living God.

Their Lack of Repentance — In vs. 20, the sin is idolatry. Now John catalogues the sins which flow from idol worship in verse 21. Idolatry always leads to a sinful lifestyle.

… In the ancient world, religion involved the use of drugs to cast spells, to poison, and to make potions. All this darkness is preferred by sinful men over the light of God. Some men will never repent. These ones God reserves for the last judgment. However, even at this time, God is still trying to persuade men to repent. He is a gracious God. “But when God’s works and words are persistently rejected, only judgment remains.” [see Johnson, A. F. below.]

Henry Van Til summed this up in his oft-quoted definition —”Culture is simply the service of God in our lives; it is religion externalized.” (see Van Til, p. 200, below.)

The Greek word for “sorceries” (pharmakôs) is the one from which we derive the English word “pharmacy.” In the NT it refers to a purveyor in witchcraft. Potients were widely used to bring people under a spell, e.g. a love potient.


A Pervitin (Methamphetamine) canister from WWII given to Nazi soldiers to make them fierce and in little need of sleep.

Drugs  have been used to alter person’s behavior for the worse. Drug use was widespread at all levels of the Nazi regime —

In his bestselling book, The Total Rush — recently published in English as Blitzed — Norman Ohler found that many in the Nazi regime used drugs regularly, from the soldiers of the Wehrmacht (German armed forces) all the way up to Hitler himself. The use of methamphetamine, better known as crystal meth, was particularly prevalent. A pill form of the drug, Pervitin, was distributed by the millions to Wehrmacht troops before the successful invasion of France in 1940.

When it came to Nazi leaders, Ohler’s research suggested, they all favored their own particular drugs of choice. In an interview, … Ohler clarified: “Not all of them took every drug. Some more, some less. Some of them were on methamphetamine — for example, Ernst Udet, the Chief of Aircraft Procurement and Supply. Others were on strong anesthetics, like Göring, whose nickname was actually ‘Möring,’ from morphine.” [see Nazi Drug Use below.]

We ought to be careful about the use of controlled substances (apart from legitimate doctor-issued prescriptions for our health issues). Drugs have been used in the past to capture men and women’s minds and rewire them to do the will of evil men.

The current anarchy at work in our society seems to be drug-fueled. For instance a recent Tweet states — “Drug use among [anarchist organization] members is rampant. 81% report using an illegal substance on a semi-regular or regular basis. Cocaine and heroin are the top drugs of choice while meth is a close 3rd place.” Another person in response tweeted — “This is crazy. I take Ritalin and have a medical marijuana card.” (Obviously, this is an illegitimate use of prescription drugs.) A last response hit the nail on the head — “Mind control is real.”

All I can conclude is, “what a waste of young lives in our time!” If you doubt, watch the “Frontline Report” 2020 on “Opioids, Inc.” on PBS. [see Opioids, Inc., below for the link to the Article and the film.]

I can leave you with the only hope I know — turn away from evil and embrace Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior!

This chart below summarizes the application of the ninth chapter.

Graph for Rev 9

Next time, on to chapter ten!


Bible quotations from [ESV and NIV]

God-shaped Hole. (2014). “Where does the concept of a “God-shaped hole” originate?” Accesssed 23 July 2020 from

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, J. W. (1927). “The Prodigal Son”, poem in God’s Trombones. Accessed 23 July 2020 from

Open Doors. (2020) “New believers lose home, family, community to follow Jesus in Vietnam.” Accessed 23 July 2020 from [* true names were changed to obscure their hiding place from ancestor worshiping persecuters.]

Opiods, Inc. (2016). “How Bad is the Opioid Epidemic?” Webpage article. Accessed 23 July 2020 from The Film version is available at

Nazi Drug Use (2017). Inside the Drug Use That Fueled Nazi Germany. Accessed 23 July 2020 from

Pascal, B. (1662). Pensees, Book VII, ¶ 425. Accessed 23 July 2020 from

Pelikan, J. (1983). From ” The Vindication of Tradition: The 1983 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities.” Accessed 25 July 2020 from

St. Augustine of Hippo. (ca. AD 400) Confessions, 1,1.5. Accessed 23 July 2020 from 

Van Til, H. (1972). The Calvinistic Concept of Culture. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker. 

© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

The Plague brought by the Sixth Trumpet

Revelation 9

12 The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come.

The judgments are so severe that they are no longer just called trumpets. They are hereafter referred to as “woes.”

As we noted in the last trumpet, if lesser warnings are not heeded, more severe ones come.

The first four trumpets touched man’s environment. They are indirect. The fifth is more direct but falls short of the death of human beings. Now with the sixth trumpet, people are directly killed by the plague the sixth trumpet brings. It will be fulfilled ultimately at the end of the age.

The-End-of-the-World 2

The End of the World by John Martin (19 July 1789 – 17 February 1854)

13 Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, 14 saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”

I. The sixth trumpet brings a plague on the Church’s persecuters that is a result of the prayers of the saints. vss. 13-14

If we find ourselves hemmed in on all sides, we still have an opened access to heaven. We can and must pray. The golden altar where the saints’ prayers are offered in Rev. 6:10 is the location of the voice that releases this severe plague.

The Voice Speaking — This voice comes from the golden altar described in Rev. 8:1-5. No doubt the speaker is the angel who hurled the censer to the earth in answer to the saints’ prayers. The saints’ prayers are still being answered. The times in which God’s people live are never too evil that God doesn’t hear and answer their prayers.

Incense altar

The Release of the Four Angels — The second woe is similar to the first one. It is also a release of a demonic horde. The only difference between this woe and the last is that these angels have the ability to kill people. This appears to be a demon invasion that leads to war among peoples: international, civil within nations, and local wars.

The Euphrates River was considered to be the boundary of the Holy Land. Beyond it lay the nations — the enemies of the people of God who persecuted and enslaved them. The Romans even had difficulties with the Parthians whose empire lay beyond this river.

The Number “4” — The number four, the four points of the compass, leads us to think of the earth. This demonic invasion is one that involves the whole earth just before the end of an age or the final end of this age.

We have had two world wars in the 20th Century. War always destroys civilizations. It undermines moral standards and allows people to escape from Biblical upbringing that would have controlled sinful tendencies.

Immigrants to our nation in each generation are always of two kinds. There are foreign immigrants who come from other countries to our shores and are in need of instruction about the Biblical basis of liberty. However, we are not sufficiently aware of a second group of immigrants who are in need of instruction, as well. They are biological immigrants — our children. Our country since WWII has failed to initiate its own children in the true meaning of liberty. The late Judge Robert Bork reminds us—

Bork Book Cover“Every new generation constitutes a wave of savages who must be civilized by their families, schools, and churches. An exceptionally large generation can swamp the institutions responsible for teaching traditions and standards. …[Since World War II] heap after heap of human beings have been dumped on to the historic scene at such an accelerated rate, that it has been difficult to saturate them with traditional culture. This is what Rathenau called ‘the vertical invasion of the barbarians.'” (see Bork below, p. 21.)

15 So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind.

II. God releases the hoard, so He is sovereign over all circumstances related to it. vss. 15-16

Four Specific Angels — These four angels are a specific group of angels. This is indicated by — (1) the use of the definite article before their name and the participle describing them; and, (2) the use of the definite article before hora (hour)


The Tigris-Euphrates River courses Wikipedia

Specific Time for Release — Note that all the time words are joined to the one definite article by kai (”and”). It is a specific time for which they have been prepared. The hour, day, month, and year of their release has been specified. God is in control!

Specific Mission — Again, we see the 1/3rd part killed stressing that even this judgment is partial and not total. God is still warning men. It is not too late to repent.

16 The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number.

The Number of the Demonic Horde — This demonic horde is under the command of the four angels which have just been loosed. John heard the count, but did not see the actual 200,000,000 ride by him.


Gustave Dore public domain

17 And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths.

III. The otherworldly character of the horses and riders are indicative of demons not modern technology. vss. 17-19

The Appearance of the Horses — John saw the appearance (horasis) of the horses and their riders. The word is from horao (to see) . He did not see the whole advancing army. The breastplates were tri-colored — red, blue, and yellow. These ‘animals’ are fierce. They symbolize a demonic horde. Sulfur is what the Elizabethians called “brimstone.”


Demonic Rider from Copyright © 

18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths.

The Plagues of the Horses — The fire, smoke, and sulfur are described as ‘three plagues’. All of these are associated with hell — the abode of the demons. This supernatural phenomenon is not in the physical realm.

19 For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound.

The Power of the Horses — These fierce demons hurt with both ends of their bodies.

The Four Horsemen from The Apocalypse

The Four Horsemen, from The Apocalypse
1498 by Albrecht Dürer

Conclusion about the fulfillment of the Sixth Trumpet

Are we at the final end of the age itself? I can’t say, but at the least end of Western Civilization which has been under the driving force of secular humanism since the enlightenment.

R. J. Rushdoony was a philosopher as well as a preacher. I can’t say I agree with all his ideas — e.g. theonomy. I do agree with his critique about our age.

The death of an age is a bloody business. Men, disillusioned with the promises of their faith, yet unwilling to surrender them, strike out at everything in rage and in frustration. Like a rudderless ship, the civilization loses its direction and is driven by events instead of driving through them. Today, in the last days of humanism, as men steadily destroy their world, it is important for us to understand the meaning of the times and act in terms of that knowledge. The humanists in their blindness celebrate “the death of God” when it is in fact the death of humanism and their own funeral they are racing to in their heedless course. Humanism is dying because its faith is false, and its promises bankrupt.

Humanism is dying, if not dead. Living with a corpse is no pleasant matter. It does not require documentation to tell us that a corpse is far gone. The answer to our problem lies elsewhere, not in documentation on death, but in reconstruction for life. Humanism is dead, but the triune God lives and rules, sovereign over all. (see Rushdoony, below.)

Next time we will sum up chapter nine and its primary teaching for us.


Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Bork, R. (1996) Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline. New York City, New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Rushdoony, R. J. (2013). The Death of an Age and Its Faith. Accessed 18 July 2020 from

© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

The Plague of the Fifth Trumpet

Revelation 9

1 And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. 2 He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. [ESV]

Image above from Ben Curtis/AP

We should understand from the woes that more severe plagues come upon persecuters of Christians if the warning of lesser plagues is not heeded. 

vs. 3 Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth.


The angel of death striking a door during the Antonine plague of Rome: an engraving by Levasseur after Jules-Elie Delaunay (1828-1891). Wikimedia commons image

Some attempt to see armies of men, tanks, etc. in this vision. However, only a demonic invasion does full justice to what is described in this chapter (see Keener, below.)

The background to the locust image

Exodus 10:12-15 records the locust plague on Egypt that led to the liberation of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt. The locusts were literal predatory insects with which we are familiar. 

Joel 1:4 and 2:1-2 record an army invasion compared to a locust infestation. 


Locust swarm in Africa 2020. Image from Reuters News on

John uses the images from the two previous passages to depict a demonic invasion. The locusts’ power in Greek is exousia (authority). Their authority is like that of a scorpion sting. The sting of a scorpion usually does not kill. It merely produces an intense burning. This is not a part of the normal make up of locusts. This is a demonic invasion from the spiritual world to the physical world. It is invisible. Yet, its effects are visible. It is probably an intense anxiety and mental anguish. (see Johnson, D. E. below.)

Locusts on a tree

Locusts on a tree that they have stripped. Images from

vs. 4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

God’s command to the locusts

The passive voice is used without a definite subject indicating an implied divine agent. The speaker himself is not identified. The important detail is not the identity of the speaker, but the fact that demons are under the sovereign control of God.

Prohibition against eating greenery 

These locusts are not literal locusts because they do not do what normal locusts do not eat greenery. They sting humans. They bring torment to unrepentant men. It is not torment physically, but spiritual and mental anguish. Nothing is so excruciating mentally as having a demon tempt you to sin, and then, having him turn around and torment you in your conscience for having done so. Multiply this scenario by a thousandfold and you will see the pangs of the lost who will not come to Christ for cleansing. They are miserable and will not come to Christ the balm of Gilead. See Johnson A. F., below; I have relied heavily on this commentary in the past especially for my notes in 1992-93.)

Harm comes only to the unbelieving, persecuters of God’s people

We are assured that torment is not the lot of the children of God. Over God’s children the demons have no authority. The seal of the living God safeguards his own.

vs. 5 They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone. 6 And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them.

A Further Prohibition

Death eludes those who are stung. The persons are tormented for five months. The question arises as to the reference of the five months torment. (1) Is the plague of  five months duration? (2) Or, does the sting itself last for five months? It is interesting that the normal life of a locust is five months. The reference is most likely to the short duration of the torment. The locusts are only around for five months. The time is short. If it were not, men would die from the mental anguish of it.

The sting of the Locusts

Scorpions do not as a general rule kill. But, their bite is painful. In any case, these locusts with scorpion bites are spiritual realities, not physical ones.

People are not able to die

Note the double negative ou me — “they will by no means find it.” It is a strong negation. Death will not come as a result of the sting. Men, who are not willing to kill themselves, will often say, “I wish I would just go ahead and die!” But, the sting is not sufficient to threaten life. “Elude” is present tense. Death keeps on fleeing from them.

Sphinx from Spata-570BC

Sphinx from Spata, Attica (570 BCE) – NAMA

The appearance of the locusts

vss. 7 In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, 8 their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth; 9 they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle. 10 They have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for five months is in their tails.

Note that he does not say that they had crowns of gold on their heads or that they actually had men’s faces. He said that their likeness (homoios) was like (hos) this. The description defies our ability to even imagine what it would look like. This is a clear indication that John saw spiritual reality and not physical reality. This is a fierce demonic horde that is bringing torment upon the unrepentant. 

Christian and apollyon

Apollyon (top) battling Christian in John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. ca. 1850.

vs. 11 They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon.

The Destroyer 

The Angel of the Abyss may be the identification of the fallen star in vs. 1. Both Abaddon (in Hebrew = “Destruction”) and Apollyon (in Greek) mean “Destroyer.”

The irony of torment by Satan and demons

Let me quote from Dennis E. Johnson’s commentary on the irony of the demonic attack on those who serve Satan’s purpose — 

This vision discloses the tragic double irony of serving Satan. First, as the angel of the abyss, the fallen star releases these demonic hordes not to afflict his enemies, the servants of God (for he cannot touch those shielded by God’s seal), but rather to afflict his allies “who dwell on the earth,” who receive the beast’s mark and worship his blasphemous image (14:14-17). The devil rewards his loyal subjects with cruel torture. Second, the relief that the tortured think they would attain through death is denied them, for the malevolent spirits that poison their minds are forbidden from taking their lives. (See Johnson, D. E. below.) 

I would add, it doesn’t pay to serve Satan’s purposes for treasures that will not last. He is not grateful, but torments human agents who can have what he can never have — salvation from sin and a life of abundant joy serving God.

On to the Sixth Trumpet next week.


Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 9: Torments for Persecutors of God’s People

Image above Albrecht Dürer “The Angel with the Key to the Abyss,” from: The Apocalypse, circa A.D. 1497.

Revelation 9

The First Woe

1 And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit.

I. We should see in the three ‘Woes’ God’s increasing judgment against the persecutors of His people and those who oppose His will.

Structure of the Last Trumpet Blasts

This verse signals the fifth trumpet as the first of three ‘woes.’ The last three trumpets are said to be ‘woes’ because of the increase in severity to mankind. They are designed to bring extreme calamity and suffering upon the “earthdwellers” — that part of mankind that is opposed to God.

The first four trumpets are indirect — affecting only man’s natural environment. The last three trumpets affect man directly by touching his very life.

The Purpose of the Trumpets

God is still warning men. The day of grace is not past at this point. People can still repent and be saved. But, with the rejection of grace extended in the indirect warnings, more severe judgments come in the direct ones.

We do not know whether the judgments of our time are the end of the age itself, but we know they signal the end of our civilization as we know it.

The Asia Minor believers of the first century would have looked upon severe judgments on Rome as means by which God was punishing sin and persecutors of His church. These last four seem to be a reiteration of the last three seals which focus more clearly on the end of the age. 

II. We should see that God can use evil to bring His will to pass. 

The Position of the Star in the Vision

John did not see the star, actually fall. It had already fallen to the earth when he saw it in the vision. “Fall” (piptô) is in the perfect tense.

The Interpretation of the “Star”

It is obvious that the “star” is used symbolically of a person. Which person is indicated?

(1) A ‘star’ is often used as a symbol for ‘angel’ (compare Job 38:4-7 and Lk. 10:17-18);
(2) Some feel very strongly that the star is a fallen angel — even Satan himself.
(3) Others feel
that it is just an angel sent on a mission.
(4) One
commentator takes it as an abstract — the gospel (Torrence) .
*(5) There are many suggestions, but
a definite identification is impossible. It is safe to say that the fallen star here is a person — a spiritual being — of great magnitude who performs a God-given task. That is all we know about him.

The Shaft of the Abyss

The “shaft of the abyss” is a Hebrew concept. The Greek word abyssos is an adjective meaning ‘bottomless’ or “unfathomable.’

(1) In the LXX, (the Septuagint or Greek translation of the Hebrew OT) , it occurs 25 times translating the Hebrew word tehom — the primal ocean, deep waters, or the place of departed spirits.
(2) It also carried the meaning “prison of fallen spirits” in Rabbinic Judaism.
(3) In the N.T. it means “a prison for demons.” (Colin Brown’s New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. II, p. 205)

The Restraint of Certain Demons

If these demons were not limited in their access to the earth, the earth would be a much more evil place. Demons do not perpetrate all that is upon their hearts to do because the Lord restrains them. However, at a certain point, the Lord relaxes his restraint upon demonic forces. Then, they can perpetrate more of their plans and designs upon their victims. God does this in order to bring men to repentance. The goodness of God is supposed to lead men to repentance, but often they only respond to judgment.

The Key to Evil is in God’s Hands. 

The Key “was given” to the angel using the passive voice to indicate an implied divine agent.

Literal doesn’t mean a newspaper account of the future. The Use of “like” and “as” in Chapter 9 is important. It should be noted that the words “like” (homoios) and “as” (hôs) occur more often in this chapter than in any other chapter in the Bible (15 times).

John is not seeing things in their essence — like they really are. He is seeing spiritual realities symbolized in forms he cannot find literal words to describe. That is why he says that “they were like X”. Note carefully, he did not say “they were X”.



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