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)
We will take these eleven verses of Chapter 9 one at a time. It was indeed preceded by a time of absolute darkness (Fourth Trumpet) so expect a period of extreme horror before the Sixth Trumpet sounds when four angels are loosened. John of Patmos was writing of events in an apocalyptic universal age well into the future and saw similar recurrences of events (birth, death, resurrection) with the creative being victorious in the end. We have a long way to travel. Step by step.
John of Patmos used metaphoric language (hail, fire, blood, great mountain, waters made bitter, darkness, and a great star …) to compile his “Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1). Later the Synoptic personified Christ in apposition to the combined governance of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Initially symbolic metaphor after metaphor was sufficient to record the revelatory Word of God portraying the battle to be free from bondage. We must understand these metaphors and revive a lost oeuvre, an opus production. The Jewish population had been betrayed and exploited by their masters time and time again resulting in a climactic defeat of the very illiterate and poverty stricken populace.
John tells us that the star that is called Wormwood in the third trumpet’s call (Rev. 8:10–11; Isa. 14:12) refers to Babylon’s failed exploits and aspirations, and he writes, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning.…” Wormwood’s poisonousness and bitterness are a curse, a calamity. The bottomless pit is a hole in the ground. “Bottomless pit,” from abussos (very deep) and phrěar, means “an abyss of mind or place or both.” We get the distinct impression that this trumpet is louder than the last trumpet and covers all these eleven verses of Revelation 9.
And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose 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)
In explaining how the lights of the inner citadel were darkened (Fourth Trumpet’s “darkness,” Rev. 8:12), the revelator observes that the tragedy has spread to the air, portending that the smoke will bring about a wider, waxing cold of civil governance and spiritual guidance in the end times. This is certainly so with the opening, when the bottomless pit is exposed as smoke billows out.
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)
Revelation’s multilateral indicators all converge in antitypical disclosure only to diverge in archetype. Where have locusts been mentioned? Where is the source in the ancient descriptive? Yes. Isaiah, with readiness of inkhorn, publishes the following: “Lucifer … didst weaken the nations” (Isa. 14:12) with a flight of locusts.
Weaken from châlash means “overthrow discomfit.” The word, the, from kiy, indicates that there were casual relations between rationality and preposterousness. The word nations, is from the Hebrew goy, which inferences foreign nations, a troop of animals, or a flight of locusts, previously highlighted in third trumpet.
Already mentioned in the fifth seal, the third angel’s message has the power to cause great division of opinion even among friends. Consider the word earth from Revelation 6:10. Earth is a place in the mind where worldly acclaim is a passing aberration versus heaven. In these heavenly and earthly nooks, there remain, in societal manner, casual relations with many members of congregations. If Wormwood can “weaken” hospitable respect with indifference in groupings, his venom, “as the scorpions of the earth,” can concentrate on the untutored and those with a tendency to simply accept what they are told, without questioning.
Joel’s typical prophetic contribution comes as follows: Tell your children, “that which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten” (Joel 1:4). In those days, “I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem” (Joel 3:1). It is not Babylonian captivity this time, but in Joel, it’s Grecian. But in the age covered by Revelation – the Apocalypse, an enslavement of thought has encumbered the population. In Joel’s recording, Judah’s enemies, the apostates, sell their (Judah’s) children to the Grecians (Joel 3:3–6). Selling their children is concurrent with the opening of the bottomless pit – child abuse. The populace is always the grass of the earth in OT and NT times, and again in Judeo-Christian times we have denied our children the very ancient message.
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 forehead. (Rev. 9:4)
The “grass of the earth,” the new green growth, is just what a flight of locusts thrives upon. The earthly green shoots need to combat the darkened air — “the air was darkened by reason of the smoke out of the pit” (Rev. 9:2). Tenacity and doggedness pervade many, despite hearing the angel’s message of woe, woe, woe. Luckily, a new perception begins to awaken among innocents as they question denuding deception, hearing, “The hour of his judgment is come.” What kind of judgment? What is this wake-up call all about, and what is the ancients’ message? “Worship him that made heaven and earth” — his presence. The key word is made, or “to make,” to be constructive, additive, devise heavenly content, one could say. Do not hurt, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth (rectitude), the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:13).
“Only” hurt those who pigheadedly resigned to witless, fraudulent, make-believe truths. Ezekiel quite emphatically stated the imperative, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof” (Ezek. 9:4). The word mark here is seal in Revelation. “And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young … but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house” (Ezek. 9:5–7). The same process is in play. Anyone who wrongly interprets has the mark of the beast and is “marked.” This is a dare to all those who literalize, taunting and haunting, statute making.
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)
Understanding the symbols, the endless metaphors, of these writings becomes enthralling for exposition. One of the most outstanding recalled epics of the OT is the story of the flood. And this recollection comes as the fifth trumpet sounds.
“There were giants in the earth in those days” (Gen. 6:4), giants of power in the OT fable. They were “mighty men which were of old, men of renown” (Gen. 6:4), indicating men of Shem. Now they had intermixed, “when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men” (Gen. 6:4). “The earth was also corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth” (Gen. 6:11–12). “And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh” (Gen. 6:17). These giants surpassed any God-given retribution!
Waters are symbolic of people, fighting people — for example, Isaiah, writing in the days when Hezekiah was a child, and his father Ahaz had plunged Judah into idolatry; Isaiah tells that the Lord will bring judgment upon them. “Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah (a quiet refreshing fountain in Jerusalem) … and rejoice in Rezin, king of Assyria and Remaliah’s son (Pekah, king of Israel). Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks: And he shall pass through Judah; and he shall overflow” (Isa. 8:6–8). Jeremiah is telling of Egypt about to fight Nebuchadnezzar at Carchemish. “Who is this that cometh up as a flood, whose waters are moved as the rivers? Egypt rises up like a flood, and his waters are moved like the rivers; and he saith, I will go up, and I will cover the earth” (Jer. 46:7–8). And the revelator’s vision is of “the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon the waters.” “The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues” (Rev. 17:15). Obviously, the whore has widespread dominion at the time of Revelation’s apocalyptic ending.
The Genesis flood was a flood of violent, fighting warriors, “and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged. The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained.… And after the end of a hundred and fifty days the waters were abated” (Gen. 8:1–3). This precedent is the OT formula-type of five months before the warring factions ceased, set in stone back in Genesis. This was a scene of demoralized fighting. This is a perfect illustration for the returning to the ancients’ philosophy in the final days of stupidity.
The apocalyptic battle with the torment of the locusts against those who have not the seal of God was similarly to last five months. Or is that another coincidence? This is John’s way of drawing from established form to impress a textual concept of the essence of archetype, the source of recurrence in essence, where fiction becomes nonfiction. It was not just plucked out of the air in Revelation. Revelation recalls the time when each month had thirty days, and the sacred year–civil year dominated the philosophical psychology of thought. This is a little hard for Western eyes to see. Maybe our eyes will stop meandering.
Men seek death but do not find it (Rev. 9:6). The fifth trumpet sounds a deep bass tune of foreboding. We could make an opera out of these lyrics but would need subtitles.
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 power of the locusts’ torment, to sting as scorpions, becomes violent in response. Men question, Why? Why have we been bamboozled, misled, hoodwinked in the ages that will be known as being very black, deep and dark? Could there not be a permanent cessation to this pestilence? The answer deludes all attempts at rectification. Then they desire to die; in other words, they solicit and beg for a lasting end to the delusion of misinformation. This request is denied them. The depraved locust armies forestall any proposition on behalf of those who have not the seal of God to cease inflicting mental anguish. On and on, the trumpet sounds into the distance mores and hilly dales.
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. (Rev. 9:7)
Joel 2:4 tells of locusts that portrayed Grecian forces, writing, “The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses.” Revelation draws a little bit here, a little bit there. John’s vision also noted a parallel in 1 Macc. 1:7–10 regarding “crowns like gold.” “So Alexander reigned twelve years, and then died. And his servants bare rule everyone in his place. And after his death they all put crowns upon themselves; so did their sons after them many years: and evils were multiplied in the earth. And there came out of them a wicked root, Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes, son of Antiochus the king, who had been a hostage at Rome … ”
“Their faces were as the faces of men” (Rev. 9:7). The locusts were pretentious kings with the intelligence of men. Of course, in Revelation it is not Alexander or Antiochus at whom John is pointing the finger but the equivalent beings in the end times.
And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth as the teeth of lions. (Rev. 9:8)
Here, the word hair, most likely from thrix meaning “feathers” for show or kome, indicates “ornamental locks.” The phrase “their teeth as the teeth of lions” also draws into this apocalyptic premonition many OT tokens. The sound of this trumpet intensifies.
And they had breastplates; as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. (Rev. 9:9)
Breastplates, from thorax, of iron are quite a formidable natural armor for locusts, “and the sound of their wings (which we all know so well) was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle” (Rev. 9:9). Again, the revelator likens this horror picture to Joel’s story of the Syrian-Greek attack on Judah. The locusts’ “sound of their wings” is likened to “the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap” in Joel 2:5.
And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. (Rev. 9:10)
With tails like scorpions and the power to hurt men for five months, this amounts to five months of retribution, reliant on Genesis 8:1–3.
And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath the name Apollyon. (Rev. 9:11):
- “They had a king over them”:We are about to be told the king’s name. He is the angel of the bottomless pit, the abyss. Angel, from aġgelos, means “messenger,” though they do not always bring good tidings.
In the Hebrew tongue, his name is Abaddon, a destroying angel. Babylon was the Hebrew vandal in pre-exilic days. This is Jeremiah’s warning to the kings of Judah. “Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoil out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place … But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith, he Lord, that this house shall become a desolation” (Jer. 22:3–5). “And I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life … even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans” (Jer. 22:25).
But who do the writings record is Apollyon, from apollyuon, the Greek destroyer (i.e., Satan)? The revelator, recalling bygone figures and understanding their oneness in times, gathers this answer from Daniel 8, 1 Maccabees 1, and Ezekiel 38-39. With all of this recall of OT–Apocrypha times and the NT’s confirming the same oppressive milieu, we wonder why we have taken so long to walk out of the forest of fear.
Daniel 8:5–11 commences with a he goat when recording details of a little horn. Daniel 8:9, which arose from one of the four divisions of Greece, continues his interpretation of these verses from Daniel 8:20–27. “The ram (from Dan. 8:3–7) which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his own power. And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up” (Dan. 8:20–23; see 1 Macc. 1:7–10 for confirmation). And “he shall destroy wonderfully,” “but not by his own power” (Dan. 8:24). The latter phrase here explains the word they in Revelation 9:11. Those men had not the seal of God on their foreheads. They are unable to stop the Seleucid tails, like scorpions, with stings in their tails. They have power to hurt men for five months and have joined the Grecians.
Contemplate also Ezekiel’s report. Ezekiel states that the people of Israel will finally be delivered from the hand of the destroyer (see Ezek. 38:14–23). Apollyon, the Greek destroyer, gathered his armies from the Japhetic nations of the north and the Hamitic from the south. Gog, from gohg, means “northern nations,” mainly consisting of Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Gomer, and Togarmah. From the Hamites came Ethiopia, Libya (Phut), and a small tribe from northern Persia (Ezek. 38:2–6).
The foremost instruction given was, “Son of man, set thy face against Gog (a northern nation), the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him. And say, Thus saith he Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal … ” (Ezek. 38:2–4). The chief prince of Meshech and Tubal was Antiochus Epiphanes. This is confirmed in Daniel 8:23 and 1 Maccabees 1:7–10. John of Patmos sees these nations as locusts. They certainly devoured everything in their path, it was “in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem … ” (see Joel 3:1).
The future Apocalypse reveals a reign of terror arising between rejecters of light and a violent power seeking dominance, similar to that of Abaddon and Apollyon. Thank God that we can move on from this awakening cry of the fifth trumpet. But another trumpet immediately sounds. Maybe, grab some earplugs.
Can you see the “Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1) in these spiraling metaphors?