Revelation 9: The Woes

Revelation 9  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 11
Revelation 9:1-111And 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. 2And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a 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. 3And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 4And 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 foreheads. 5And 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. 6And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. 7And 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. 8And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. 9And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. 10And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. 11And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon. (Revelation 9:1‑11)
We have already learned that, in the times of these judgments, God will seal as His own a great number from Israel, who will be preserved for the reign of Christ. We may surely conclude from the fact that the fifth trumpet judgment, or first woe, falls on “those men which have not the seal of God on their foreheads,” that this judgment falls especially on the apostate, or unsealed portion of the nation of Israel.
This fearful judgment appears to be some Satanic delusion that darkens the minds of men. It is presented as being brought about under the symbol of a star fallen to the earth. May this not set forth some intellectual leader in a subordinate position who is permitted to delude men's minds with some Satanic teaching?
This evil teaching is set forth under the symbol of a swarm of locusts that, with irresistible power, sweep all before them leaving misery in their trail. The natural locusts would destroy the grass and every green thing, and strip the trees. But the evil influence set forth by these symbolic locusts will not affect the circumstances of life, or even the bodies of men, but poisons the minds of men even as a scorpion poisons the body. To such mental misery will men be brought that they will seek death but not find it. Death is probably used in the passage in a moral sense, as an expression of separation from God. The very people that were once called to be a witness to the true God will, through falling under this Satanic delusion, seek to find relief to their minds by attempting to throw off all knowledge of God.
Striking figures are used to set forth this terrible delusion. “Horses prepared unto battle” would surely infer that it will come with irresistible power; the “crowns like gold” suggest that this delusion will appear to have supreme authority; “the faces of men” would symbolize that it will have a highly intellectual character; “the hair of women” may suggest that it will commend itself as having the appearance of meekness and subjection to others. But whatever its outward attraction to the minds of men, “the teeth of lions” would imply that it will lay hold of men with fanatic ferocity, while “the breastplates of iron” may indicate that it will harden the affections, and seize upon the minds of men with incredible swiftness as set forth by “the sound of their wings” likened to “the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.” This strong delusion will leave a trail of terrible misery symbolized by the “stings in their tails.” This evil influence will affect men for a limited period for the power to hurt will only last for five months. The leader in this terrible delusion will be Satan, the angel of the bottomless pit.
It has been suggested that the star that falls from heaven sets forth the false prophet, or Antichrist, described in greater detail in chapter 13:11-18. We know that he will be an apostate (Dan. 11:3737Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. (Daniel 11:37)) and will be energized by Satan, for he speaks as a dragon, to deceive those that dwell on the earth. May we not conclude that the fifth and sixth trumpet judgments set forth the strong delusion of which the apostle Paul speaks in the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians 2:8-12?
A voice from the golden altar before God calls forth the sixth angel, or second woe judgment. This again reminds us that all these judgments are directed from heaven, and that evil in its fullness is restrained until the moment for judgment is come.
This judgment is very similar to the last; but whereas the first woe fell upon the unsealed of Israel this second woe is said to fall upon “the third part of men,” an expression which is used in chapter 12:4 to set forth the sphere of the Roman Empire, which would embrace professing Christendom.
The mention of the Euphrates would indicate that this judgment comes from the East, for this river is the natural barrier between the East and the West. It would seem then that when the time of this judgment is come this barrier will be removed and some evil influence from the East will sweep over the sphere of professing Christendom. The symbol of a mighty army of horsemen would indicate some irresistible delusion of the devil. “Their power in their mouth” may indicate that this delusion will be presented with all the persuasive eloquence of speech. But behind the delusion is the power of Satan, symbolized by their tails being like unto serpents. In result the third part of men are killed, setting forth, probably not physical death but that men are led into all the misery of apostasy, or moral death to God. Have we not had foreshadowings of such a delusion sweeping over Christendom from the East in the history of the invasion of Mahomet?
Apparently there will be some that escape this terrible delusion, but even so they do not repent, for it is evident from the closing verse that as in the days before the flood the world will be given over to violence and corruption.