“Then the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth;…”(Rev. 9:1-12)
Then the 5th angel blew his trumpet, and John “…saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key to the bottomless pit was given to him”. As with the last three seals, with the last three trumpets we move into the spiritual realm. While the seals were concerned with heavenly realities, the trumpets talk about the abyss and the demons. Here’s the idea of an angel already fallen (perfect tense). Some link this angel that had fallen to Satan. This goes back to Isaiah 14:12, or they go to Revelation 12:9, and say “see it’s Satan; he’s fallen from heaven. However, in context, it seems to me, that’s just another angel that’s in charge of God’s judgment. Now, i agree that down in verse 11, he’s going to be called the king of abyss. But Bible scholars have diverse interpretation as to the identity of this angel. And John does not identify him and we simply do not have enough information to do so. You can see how fluid these metaphors are, therefore, it sure is inappropriate to be dogmatic in this area. The crucial thing is God is in control over these demonic elements that are going to be loosed, but God is in control.
Now, “…and the key to the bottomless pit was given to him.” – The idea of this ‘key’ is mentioned in Rev. 1:18 where Christ has the “keys of death and Hades”, and the idea of Rev. 20:1 where another angel has the keys of the pit. Now this abyss in my opinion is synonymous with Tartarus of 2nd Peter 2:4, because ‘abyss’ is basically a Greek word which means depth with the alpha privative which means ‘fathomless” (cf. Gen. 1:2; 7:11). In 10:7, it’s used for Hades or Sheol where the dead go, but in other parts of the bible like in Luke 8:31, that’s the account of Jesus sending the demons in the pigs to the abyss. It seems like it’s a place where these evil spirits are kept, as a matter of fact in Rev. 11:7, it’s where the Anti-Christ comes from. In Rev. 21, it’s where Satan is bound, so I think Tartarus which is where the angels of Genesis 6 are held in darkness, i think it’s the same allusion to the place where fallen angelic spirits are kept, and that’s what the abyss is now. Having been given the key to the pit of the abyss shows that God is in control of all things. He’s in control of fallen angels. God is sovereign, and He’s in control is a powerful truth emphasized repeatedly for a group of hurting Christians.
Now, so “He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace;” – some say this means that there is fire in Hades or Sheol. I’m not sure we can buy that. Luke 16 talks about the rich man in punishment in Hades, so there is the idea of punishment even before hell, but we’re not sure we can back that up. Notice here the smoke comes out and out of smoke comes these locusts (not a smoke of locusts). Remember locusts formed the 8th plague in Egypt (cf. Exo. 10:12-20). Notice that the air was darkened, which some say that refers to Satan the prince of the power of the air. I think that’s reading way too much into much. “…and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power.” – now this to me is not looking for something literal to be fulfilled like this is a demonic horde of half- animal and half-insect looking like human faces that are going torture men. They’re not regular locusts and they’re not supposed to eat grass, or any plants and trees. They’re supposed to torment men for five months. Obviously, to me this is the intensification of demonic activity before the return of Christ and that’s going to be followed in an even intense form in the second half of this chapter. So here, these supernatural locusts are not to eat plants but only the people who did not have the mark of the seal of God on their foreheads. Now this is the 144,000 mentioned earlier who have been sealed by God from these plagues. This is not the great tribulation on believers. This is the Great Tribulation of God on unbelievers. And one reason it’s confusing is, we’re not always certain when the word ‘tribulation’ is used. Which one we’re referring to? Because there are 2 different kinds.
Notice where it mentions here, they “they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months;” Why 5 months? Well, some say it’s the idea of limited judgment. That may be true because back in chapter 6:7-12, there is a limit to the judgment of God that fell only on unbelievers. “…and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a man.” Now this idea of scorpion may be a metaphor, and you might want to see 2 Chronicles 10:11-14 about Old Testament metaphor for the sting of a scorpion. “And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death flees from them.” – goes back to chapter 6:15-16 where the same allusion is brought as they will flee for their lives, but they can’t hide. “The appearance of the locusts was like horses…” – now many go back to Joel 2:4 here, but it seems quite possible that this is an Arab proverb, “…on their heads appeared to be crowns like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They had hair like the hair of women,” Now that’s an Arab proverb and John is drawing from the cultural definition of locusts as part human and part animal. And you can read through here the deal about the “lion’s teeth” in Joel 1:6. “…and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to battle” – go to Joel 2:4-5. And then it says, their tails were like scorpion, and again they had 5 months.
Now verse 11, it says “they have as king over them,” – but in Proverbs 30:27 it says that locusts don’t have kings. But this is a really important point here. In Hebrew, his name is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon. In Hebrew it means ‘destruction’ but in Greek it means ‘destroyer’ and it’s masculine. Now some go back to the Old Testament: Job 26:6; 28:22; 31:12; Ps. 88:11; Prov. 15:11; and 27:20 to speak about the allusion of this ‘Abaddon’. Others go back to the Qumran literature of this inter-Biblical literature where the name is a personification of death. Still others see it as a reference to Domitian and Nero claiming to be the incarnation of Apollo. ‘Apollyon’ and ‘Apollo’ came from the same Greek root word, and they see an allusion here to the 2 Emperor worship. Now, it’s also known that a locust was a symbol of Apollo, and so maybe that’s true that who claims to be Emperor is only over a group of demonic locusts. Maybe that’s the idea, but it may be reading too much in here.