Week - 15 The Coming Demonic Plagues Revelation 9 Part One
Updated: Dec 15, 2021
Authored by Jerry Marshall
Imagine with me for just a moment what our world would be like if all the doors of all the penitentiaries on earth were opened, setting free the most vicious and violent criminals, giving them free reign upon this earth to do as they please, without fear of retribution or punishment.
It would be safe to say that there would not be many places on this earth that would be safe. And yet, there is coming a time in future world history when something far worse that this will take place. For in the allowable will of God, as an expression of His righteous judgment upon this sin sick and fallen world, the doorway of the abyss will be opened, liberating the most vile and evil creatures, to inflict the inhabitants of the earth with such torment that it leaves them with a strong desire to die.
The eighth chapter closed with an ominous message declared by an eagle flying in mid-heaven (8:13). The nature of this warning is that there is a rising crescendo of divine judgment yet to come.
The first four-trumpet blasts unleashed various expressions of God’s wrath upon the ecology and environment of planet earth. But the next two-trumpet blasts will unleash a two-part demonic plague that will result in death desiring pain and the eventual death of one third of the world’s population.
(Assuming the world’s population is six billion people that would mean two billion dead. In addition to the fourth seal which results in one quarter of the world’s population dying).
And yet with all of this, the reaction of those who inhabit the earth at this time is startling (Revelation 9:20-21).
“The traumatic events associated with the fifth trumpet vision unfold in four scenes.”
I. The Abyss Unlocked (Revelation 9:1-2)
A. The Star From the Sky (verse 1)
In Revelation 8:10, the star that had fallen from the sky and contaminated a third of the world’s fresh water supplies, is no doubt an asteroid or some mass of molten material. But here, the star is described as a “being,” rather than an inanimate object. This is especially evidenced by the fact that the key to the shaft of the abyss was given to him. The NASB translates the last part of this verse, “the key of the bottomless pit was given to him.”
There is much discussion about the identity of this star. Some scholars focus in on the phrase; had fallen and identify this star as a fallen angel - one of many of Satan’s minions roaming about carrying out the will of his master. Some identify him as the ultimate fallen angel who is Satan himself. However, it is best to identify this star as one of the many angelic beings who serve as agents of the Lord throughout the book of Revelation, serving the Lord in the exercising of His final wrath upon the inhabitants of the earth, during the time of the Great Tribulation.
He is probably the same angel mentioned in Revelation 20:1, who comes with the key to the Abyss in order to chain Satan for one thousand years and incarcerate him in the Abyss.
What is this bottomless pit, often described in the NT as the Abyss? The word is a translation of the GK word, abussos, which literally refers to a bottomless pit as the NASB translates it. Of the eight times that the Abyss is mentioned in the New Testament, seven are found in the book of Revelation. It is pictured as the abode of scorpion like demonic creatures and their king, which is revealed in the passage. Interestingly, the beast or the antichrist comes up out of this place (Revelation 11:7; 17:8).
As mentioned earlier, it will serve as the place of incarceration for Satan during the one-thousand-year reign of Christ on earth. In (Luke 8:26-31), Jesus had an encounter with demons called “Legion” that reflect a deep-seated fear of being cast by Christ into the Abyss. The Abyss (bottomless pit) then is a subterranean place of incarceration or confinement of demonic beings and eventually Satan for one thousand years just prior to being cast into the Lake of fire. It is interesting to note that people are never recorded in the Scriptures as being cast into this Abyss or coming out from the Abyss at the time of the resurrection of the dead.
This star Angel then is given the key to the shaft of the Abyss, obviously with the intent of opening it.
The “bottomless pit” is literally “the pit of the abyss.” Luke makes it clear that this “pit” is the abode of the demons (Luke 8:31), and John states that Satan will be temporarily “jailed” there during our Lord’s reign on the earth (Revelation 20:1–3). The Antichrist (i.e., “the beast”) will ascend out of this pit (Revelation 11:7; 17:8). It is not the lake of fire, for that is the final “prison” for Satan and all who follow him (Revelation 20:10), but part of that hidden underworld under the Lord’s authority. Today, the fearsome army described here is already incarcerated, waiting for the hour of liberation.
B. The Smoke from the Pit (verse 2)
The rising smoke is “an ominous precursor of the real terrors that come from the pit.” When he, (the star angel) unlocks the abyss, the smoke from this horrific place rises and it blots out the sun and darkens the atmosphere. This impact upon the world’s atmosphere would be in addition to the one already experienced by the fourth Trumpet blast (8:12).
What we will soon see is that this billowing smoke is filled with locusts like demonic beings that are released from this dungeon-like place, this place of incarcerated fallen angels.
II. The Occupants Unleashed (Revelation 9:3-6)
1Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989, S. Re 9:1
A. Their Power (verse 3)
Obviously, these are not your natural garden-variety locusts, since locusts have no stinging tail as scorpions do. The power to sting and inflict excruciating pain is the power of the scorpion. This is not some sort of a hybrid insect that God created for this time of judgment. These are preexisting creatures that have been confined in the Abyss.
These locusts-like creatures are a swarming destructive host of demonic beings that possess the destructive power to inflict great pain and agony upon those who inhabit the earth.
B. Their Mission (verse 4)
Their target then is not the environment of the inhabitants of the earth - but rather those who inhabit the earth who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. The usual destruction caused by locusts is to plants and trees and all vegetation, but not in this case.
In speaking of the destructive force of locusts, John Phillips has stated,
The worst locust plague in modern times stuck the Middle East in 1951-52 when in Iran, Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia every green and growing thing was devoured across hundreds of thousands of square miles. Locusts eat grain, leaf, and stalk right down to the bare ground. When a swarm arises and flies on its way, the green field is left a desert; barrenness and desolation stretch as far as the eye can see.
But once again, proving that these are not ordinary locust in mind here, (for locusts do not attack humans), the mission of these demon creatures is to harm only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. Those who do have the seal of God on their foreheads during this time of Great Tribulation were introduced to us earlier in this book (Revelation 7:1-8).
Just as the children of Israel were protected from the plagues that fell upon the Egyptians, so also, the 144,000 will escape the torments of these scorpion locusts like demonic creatures and the pain that they will inflict.
They have a certain degree and measure of intelligence; they do not hurt the ones with the seal of God, and they are able to understand and execute the commands given to them. They combine characteristics of horses, chariots, lions, men, and scorpions. This full description is sufficient in itself to demonstrate that the locust cannot be literal but are symbolic.
C. Their Limitations (verse 5a)
5 They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months.
2 KJV Bible Commentary. electronic ed. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1994, S. 2679
They were only to inflict severe but nonfatal pain on those who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were to do this for a limited period of time, five months, which is equal to the normal lifespan of natural locusts.
The implication is that the one who gives them this power is our sovereign God in the exercise of the various aspects of his final judgment upon those who openly reject Him and give their full devotion to the Antichrist and this fallen world.
The normal lifespan of the locust is about five months (May to September), and this is the length of time that the judgment will last.
D. Their Victims (verses 5b-6)
Revelation 9:5–6 (NASB)
5 And 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.
6 And in those days, men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death flees from them.
The agony of the sting of a scorpion involves excruciating pain with flu like symptoms of a severe kind, which involves vomiting, fever, headaches and muscle pain that is continuous as long as the venom is in the body’s system. From the more deadly species, the symptoms include severe convulsions and paralysis. Whatever the nature and extent of this torture, it leaves those inflicted with one desire, and that is to die; and by sovereign design, that desire will not be attainable.
III. Their Appearance Unveiled (Revelation 9:7-10)
After disclosing to us the origin, power, mission, and limitations of these locust-like, scorpion-like demons, John now describes for us in verses 7-10 just what these horrifying creatures looked like. He repeatedly uses the word like in his effort to describe what he sees because he had never seen anything like this and so he is stuck with comparison statements, in order to provide the reader with some idea of what he was beholding. Exactness is not being expressed here, but rather similarity.
John uses natural and familiar analogies. Still, they would have to be considered the most bizarre creatures mentioned in all the book of revelation.
A. Their Looks (verse 7a)
7 The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle.
This is descriptive of the eagerness of these creatures to get on with their mission, to start
3Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989, S. Re 9:1
the war and to begin with the destruction. They were like horses lined up for battle, snorting and straining at the bit, pawing the ground, eager to spring into action. Their anticipation is like that of restless horses ready to spring into battle.
B. Their Heads (verse 7b)
On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold.
The crowns probably signify their power and authority to carry out their mission. From the perspective of their victims, they will be invincible and unstoppable.
The description of the locusts is designed to create an impression of conquest and victory. Like horses prepared for battle, they were a conquering host. Wearing gold-like crowns, they were authorized to rule in men’s lives. With human-appearing faces, they were creatures of intelligence.
The inhabitants of the earth will not be able to impede them in their mission nor come up with a cure for their sting.
C. Their Faces (verse 7c)
And their faces resembled human faces.
Although their faces are somewhat recognizable, they didn’t look like insects. They resemble people in their facial appearance. (this may allude to them being rational beings)
The locusts’ visible similarities to horses, human faces, lions, and scorpions caution against reading John’s visions as physical descriptions. Rather, these images show demons to be powerful, swift, intelligent, fierce, and capable of inflicting intense mental and spiritual torment.
D. Their Hair (verse 8a)
8 Their hair was like women’s hair,
That is, that their hair was long and flowing. The Parthians wore long flowing hair as a symbol of fierceness and strength. Not to look feminine. In this battlefield motif, that is the best way to understand this reference to their hair, sort of like relief pitchers in the Major league and defensive lineman in football in our day.
E. Their Teeth (verse 8b)
…and their teeth were like lions’ teeth.
4MacDonald, William; Farstad, Arthur: Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. electronic ed. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995, S. Re 9:7
5 Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2476). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Nothing compares with the teeth of a lion in terms of the capacity to tear apart its prey. Here such teeth are mentioned perhaps to emphasize their fierceness and strength to overpower their victims and to hold them in place while they strike them with their venomous tail.
F. Their Breastplates (verse 9a)
9 They had breastplates like breastplates of iron,
The breastplate was used to protect the soldier’s vital organs and to preserve their lives. Here the symbolism of the breastplate is used to convey the invincibility of this demonic horde. They were impossible to resist or to destroy.
G. Their Wings (verse 9b)
…and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle.
Continuing in the military imagery, John speaks of this on-coming demonic horde as an advancing army. This militant army is accompanied by the thundering sounds. John was no doubt familiar with these sights and sounds from observing the first century military might of an advancing Roman army.
But the wings of this bizarre looking demonic horde made this thundering sound of battle. This is like something you might see on the sci-fi channel.
H. Their Tails (verse 10a)
10 They had tails and stings like scorpions,
The primary weapon is the stinger in their tails which John compares again to that of a scorpion’s sting, a venomous, painful and destructive sting.
Within the Gospels, there is record of the kind of torment that demons have inflicted upon their victims. In Matthew 8:28, Jesus encountered two demon possessed men whose emotional state was so impacted by the demons, that they were so violent that no one could pass their way. Matthew 12:22, records a time when Jesus healed a man who was possessed by demons who left him blind and mute.
I. Their Power (verse 10b)
…and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months.
The picture of the locusts concludes as it began in vv. 3–5 with a comparison of their authority to the power that scorpions have over their prey and with a limitation of their power over people to “five months.” Added to the summary are further features of scorpions and how they execute their power: the locusts “have tails like scorpions and stings, and in their tails is their power to harm people.”
IV. Their King Unmasked (Revelation 9:11-12)
A. His Nature (verse 11a)
11 They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss,
The word king is a translation of the GK word basileus (bas-il-yooce), which refers to one who is the primary leader, commander or lord over a land. Some have identified this king as Satan. However, Satan’s domain is described in scripture as the heavenlies (Eph 6:12), where he is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). He is not identified in the scriptures in association with the Abyss until he himself is cast into it at the beginning of the 1000-year reign of Christ (Revelation 20:1-3).
It is best to view this angel as a high-ranking demon in Satan’s hierarchy (cf. Ephesians 6:10-12).
B. His Name (verse 11b)
…whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon.
Both the Hebrew and the Greek words for the angel of the abyss are descriptive of destruction and the one who destroys, he is the destroyer. This king of the Abyss is the personification of destruction and the leader of this demonic torment squad. The ultimate Antifa leader of our day.
There is a hierarchy of power among the demons, just as among the holy angels. Apparently, “the angel of the bottomless pit” is one of Satan’s most trusted leaders.
1. Demons are not mythical beings. They are actual angelic beings who have aligned with Satan and his evil purposes. We are informed in Revelation that they are fallen angels who have
6Beale, G. K.: The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text. Grand Rapids, Mich.; Carlisle, Cambria : W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999, S. 502
7MacArthur, John Jr: The MacArthur Study Bible. electronic ed. Nashville : Word Pub., 1997, c1997, S. Re 9:11 joined Satan in his rebellion toward God (Revelation 12:9).
2. Demons are not divine beings. They are created spirit beings that are subject to the sovereign limitations established by God (i.e., Revelation 9:4-5; Job 2:1-7). Ultimately, they along with Satan will be cast into the Lake of Fire, which God had specifically prepared for them (Matthew 25:41).
3. Although the inhabitants of the earth in the future world will not be able to hinder the mission of these scorpion-like demons, believers today can stand firm against the Devil and his demonic host and come out victorious (Ephesians 6:10-18; 1 Peter 5:8-9; James 4:7).