[This is an excerpt from my book, Mankind’s Final 7 Years Before Christ Returns: A verse-by-verse explanation of the book of Revelation]
9 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.
Many believe that this falling star is referring to the fall of Satan (Isaiah 14:12; Luke 10:18), and try to link it to the events of Revelation 12:9. That event, however, occurs at the beginning of the Great Tribulation, while this one occurs at the end. We see, in Revelation 11:7 and 13:1, that the beast came up from the abyss during the first four seals. Also, in Revelation 20:1-3, an angel has the key and binds Satan in the abyss. Another point to consider, is that the actions of this fallen star only affects unbelievers.
The bottomless pit, or abyss, is mentioned several times in the New Testament. It is always associated with supernatural beings, and should not be confused with hades or hell. Hades is the temporary holding place for the souls of sinners awaiting judgment. Hell will be the final destination for those eternally separated from God. The bottomless pit, or abyss, is the prison for the angels which rebelled against God (Jude 6; Genesis 6:1-4). (See also- Luke 8:31; 1 Peter 3:19; 2 Peter 2:4).
2 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.
3 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.
They are given power, but the next few verses show that their power is limited. Joel 2:1-11 gives an interesting depiction of this event.
4 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.
The only ones with the seal of God, are the 144,000 (Revelation 7:1-8). The 144,000 (not a literal number) are Christians and God-fearing Jews who will be protected, as they will not be subject to God’s wrath. That only unbelievers suffer is further proof that the star, given the key to the bottomless pit, is not Satan.
5 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.
Some people believe that this is not a literal five months. They point out that since the life-cycle of a locust is five months, this just symbolically means until the allotted time has run its course. Also, these are not normal locusts, and in verses 7-11, John will list ten un-locust-like characteristics of the creatures. And, yet, verse 10 will restate that the period of time is five months. Regardless of the actual time-frame, the purpose of the locusts is to inflict physical pain for an extended amount of time.
6 And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
This is not the Hollywood version of the zombie apocalypse, but these truly are the walking dead. Perhaps it is poetic justice that the wicked, who killed Christians and Jews, are themselves denied death.
The wicked desired death during the cosmic chaos of the sixth seal (Revelation 6:12-17), but at this point they will have the added incentive of enduring pain.
7 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.
8 And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.
9 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.
10 And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.
The locusts are demonic, so the description could be literal, but is probably symbolic of their attributes. Horses could show their warlike character; crowns show authority; hair of women could indicate attractiveness; teeth of lions shows destructiveness; breastplates of iron show they are indestructible; wings indicate swiftness; and their stings indicate their intent toward mankind.
Joel 2:10 says, “The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining”.
11 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.
If we study the two names for the locust king, we find that it may not be talking about Satan, as many believe, but of another supernatural being. Regardless of the identity of the star given the key to the abyss, in verse 1, it does not state that he will lead the locusts. Also, Joel 2:11 states that God leads this army of locusts, and it obeys His command.
The Hebrew word for Abaddon appears five times in the Old Testament, and is usually translated as “destruction”. The Greek word for Apollyon appears many times in the New Testament, and is generally translated as “destroy” or “perish”. According to Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10:10, this is the destroyer who killed the Israelites which murmured against Moses (Numbers 16-17). Apparently, this would also be the angel which killed 185,000 Assyrians when they came against king Hezekiah (2 Kings 19:35).
12 One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.
Notice the word “hereafter”. This clearly indicates a break between the fifth and sixth trumpet. Many confuse the fifth and sixth trumpets to be one event, but that is not the case. The fifth trumpet causes torment without death, while the sixth trumpet causes death.
13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,
14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
These four angels should not be confused with the four angels in 7:1 which stood at the four corners of the earth.
15 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.
16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.
Many commentators attempt to identify this army with China, which has a military of that size. Not only is that view extremely illogical since no nation would ever send away 100% of its military force, but it also defies John’s description. These 200,000,000 horsemen are demonic, not human.
The actual number of horsemen is difficult to translate, but the Greek text literally says “twice innumerable”.
17 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.
18 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.
The four angels, through the horsemen, will kill one third of the population, with plagues of fire, smoke, and brimstone. If the beast killed one fourth of the world population (Rev. 6:8), and the four angels kill a third of the remaining 75%, then half of the world population will die by this point of Daniel’s 70th week. Remember, however, this plague only affects unbelievers.
19 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.
20 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:
21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
It should be noted that God is not asking the unbelievers to repent, but the scripture is just stating the condition of their hearts. They committed various sins against God, and steadfastly refuse to repent, despite the judgments. (See also- 1 Timothy 4:1; Romans 1:18-32)