The First Woe

THE FIFTH TRUMPET: THE PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS (9:1-12). It’s Hell on earth! The star that had fallen (perfect passive participle) from the ouranou (heaven, not sky) to earth is not a literal star, but an intelligent being as indicated by the personal pronouns and personal acts ascribed to him. This star is not the “angel of the Abyss” of Revelation 9:11.

Jesus said in Luke 10:18, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” This might be speaking of the fall of Lucifer from heaven, when he became Satan, the adversary and archenemy of God and man (Isaiah 14:12-15). On the other hand, the star could be the same angel that binds Satan at the beginning of the Millennium in Revelation 20:1-3. This star (angel) is given the key to the shaft of the Abyss.

THE ABYSS. In Revelation, the King James Version renders abussou “the bottomless pit” (9:1,2,11; 11:7; 17:8; 20:1, 3), which denotes the abode of evil spirits, but not the place of final punishment. The Abyss is to be distinguished from Tartarus (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6) and the Lake of Fire (Revelation 9:20; 20:10).

FURNACE and SMOKE indicate a place of torment. No wonder the demons begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss (Luke 8:30-31). Fallen angels do not escape God’s judgment!

THE LOCUSTS (9:3-10). These are not locusts but demons. These locusts eat no vegetation unlike those of the eighth Egyptian plague (Exodus 10:3-20). They have a king but “locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks” (Proverbs 30:27). They are not suffocated by smoke, or burned by fire, as would be literal locusts. They rise from the prison for demons; they are indestructible; and they are intelligent, receiving commands not to hurt those who have the seal of God on their foreheads.

The appearance of these demons who behave like locusts is anything but that of a locust:

1. Battle horses speak of power and might.
2. Golden crowns (stephanos) denote victory.
3. Faces resembling human faces speak of intelligence.
4. Women’s hair speaks of enticement and seduction.
5. Lion’s teeth show their ferociousness and savageness.
6. Breastplates of iron point to invincibility.
7. Sound of wings like thundering horses and chariots rushing into battle indicates overwhelming force.
8. Tails and stings like scorpions show limited power since the sting of a scorpion is exceedingly painful for several hours, but is seldom fatal.

THE ANGEL OF THE ABYSS (9:11). This angel’s name in the Hebrew is Abaddon, but in the Greek, his name is Apollyon. This angel is a fallen one who is now bound in the Abyss with these demons. His name means destruction or destroyer. Scripture reveals that there is organization in spiritual realm; for instance, Romans 8:38; Ephesians 3:10; 6:12; Colossians 1:16; 2:15. As the king over the released demons, Apollyon rules and commands the demons but with limited powers:

1. Not to hurt the grass
2. Not to hurt any green thing
3. Not to hurt the trees
4. Not to hurt the people of God
5. To hurt all other people
6. Not to kill people
7. To torment people for five months

Historicists apply the locusts to the Islamic hordes.

Preterists interpret the locusts as the Romans’ attack on Jerusalem.

Idealists believe the locusts are symbolic of the character of demons and some hold that Apollyon is Satan.

Futurists see the locusts as a literal demonic attack in the Tribulation. Some futurists see the rise of New Age heresies under the leadership of a future apostate pope.

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