Summary: In this chapter we see what happens when Satans forces are let loose for a short time - they torment and destroy billions of people - people who are not sealed by Gods mark.
When bad things happen - storms, tidal waves, earthquakes, pandemics - people suffer and mourn loss - but often we console ourselves by saying that it is nothing personal - just "an act of God." I would argue about that - the creation fell along with man and so we suffer the curse put on it. But I understand the sentiment.
Here in Chapter 9 of Revelation the tragedy that befalls humankind is far worse than a "natural disaster" because it is very personal. This chapter records the releasing of forces bent on destroying man or inciting him to destroy each other. To think about a being with that much hate directed towards us is truly frightening.
And yet it is also revealing - because despite the attacks of our true enemy - Lucifer and his demons - mankind will not turn to the only alternative - the Lord God.
We are in the midst of the seven trumpet judgments - all taking place under the seventh seal of the title deed of earth, opened by the Lamb of God: Jesus Christ. Today we see two trumpets - just two - that bring with them horrible consequences.
Verse 1 The Fifth Trumpet
Notice that it is one of God’s angels that opens up the pit. There apparently are some demons that God locked away, but will now be allowed out to follow their nature - the same nature as their master: to steal, kill, and destroy.
There is some debate about the identity of the "star" but the most reasonable interpretation is that it is an angel - mostly because the key he uses belongs to God.
The "Bottomless Pit" is Abuso in the Greek - "The Depthless Hole". 2 Peter 2:4, and Jude 6 talk about this place - a terrible prison where demons are held until the end times. In Luke 8:31 the Legion of demons begged Jesus not to send them to the Abyss. From the description it is a place of fire and smoke - perhaps God even imprisons them inside volcanoes. When it is opened - so much smoke comes out that it once again obscures the sun (like happened in chapter 8).
We don’t know exactly if these are demons - but I would venture a guess that they are, since they come out of the Abyss. Locusts are bad enough - a locust can eat it’s own weight in food every 24 hours - and they eat nearly anything - but these are not ordinary locusts - they eat nothing green. This plague is similar to that over Egypt, but is actually the fulfillment of Joel 1:6-2:11. Imagine a locust that not only swarms around you but has the power of a scorpion.
Watch what they do, what they look like, and who they belong to:
Verses 4 - 11
In my years growing up in northern California we would often find scorpions down near the lake where my parents had a cabin. They were rather small, brown, scorpions. They never stung me, but I was told if they did you’d get pretty sick. All scorpions we know of are poisonous. Their venom contains a neurotoxin that interferes with neurotransmission. Among the most dangerous scorpion known to man is the Leiurus quinquestriatus, which is able to kill a small child or elderly person.
Though normally scorpions do not sting - these scorpion/locusts purposefully target certain people - those who have not been sealed by the Lord. This would certainly apply to the 144,000 Jews sealed in chapter 7 - but I think also to any who receives Jesus during the Tribulation.
Ephesians 1:13-14 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
So it’s interesting that these locusts were sent to attack their own. They are described as having human faces - probably indicating they are not mere insects but intelligent creatures. The description is actually pretty good for locusts on close observation. They live for 5 months - the lifespan of a locust.
They sting those who have rejected God - and the sting is so bad that men long to die, but they can’t.
We get the biggest clue as to their identity from who their king is: Satan. Now here it calls him the "angel of the bottomless pit" - and it’s possible that it is Lucifer who opens the door to the pit to let these forces out - possible. We know it is him - whether he opens the pit or not - by his names: Abbadon means destruction, and Apollyon means destroyer.