Revelation 9:1-12 Part 3


1)    Then the fifth messenger trumpeted, and I saw a star having fallen from the heaven into the land, and the key of the shaft of the abyss was given to it.

2)    And the shaft of the abyss was opened, and smoke as smoke from a great furnace arose out of the shaft, and the sun and the atmosphere was darkened by the smoke from the shaft.

3)    Then locusts came forth into the land from the smoke; and power was given to them the same as the capabilities the scorpions of the land have.

4)    And it was said to them that they should do no harm to the grass of the land nor any green plant nor any tree, but only the men having no seal of God on their foreheads.

5)    And it was given to them that they not kill them but that they should be tormented five months, and their torment as the scorpion torments when it has stung a man.

6)    Then the men will seek the death in these days and will not find it; they will long to die, but the death flees from them.

7)    The appearances of the locusts like horses having been made ready into battle; upon their heads as crowns like gold; their faces as men’s faces;

8)    they had hair as women’s hair; their teeth were as lions’;

9)    they had breastplates as iron breastplates; the sound of their wings as chariot sound from many horses running into battle;

10) they have tails and stings like scorpions, their ability to harm the men five months in their tails.

11) For their ruler they have the messenger of the abyss, the Hebrew name: Abaddon, the Hellenic name being Apollyon.

12) The one woe did go forth.  Lo!  It comes yet two woes after this.

13) Then the sixth messenger trumpeted.  Then I heard one voice from the four corners of the altar of gold before God

14) saying to the sixth messenger having the trumpet, ‘loose the four messengers having been bound at the great river Euphrates’.

15) And the four messengers having been made ready into the hour and the day and the month and the year were loosed in order that they might kill the third of the men.

16) The number of the armies of horses: two myriads of myriads.  I heard their number.

17) And thus I saw in the appearance of the horses, and those who sit on them, having breastplates of fire and hyacinth and brimstone, the heads of the horses as lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulphur went forth out of their mouths.

18) From these three plagues, the fire and the smoke and the sulphur going forth from their mouths, the third of the men were killed,

19) for the ability of the horses is in their mouths; and in their tails, their tails like serpents having heads, they do harm.

20) And the rest of the men, those not killed in these plagues, neither repented of the works of their hands that they should not worship devils and idols of gold and silver and brass and stone and wood (which neither can see nor hear nor walk),

21) nor did they repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their fornications nor of their thefts.


I don’t think it’s possible (without compromising The Faith, that is) for a Christian to go through life without setting a boundary with regard to the world order and the way it thinks and operates, and then making it clear that it “must not cross over this line”!  The world order isn’t afraid to post boundaries for us Christians within which we are able to speak and live and worship.  Neither are we to fear setting the periphery through which none are to penetrate!

The “line”, of course, is the Word of the Christ.  He is O Logos – The Word of God.  To think and to reason and to operate in life from any other starting point is the very definition of insanity.  Insanity begins with the curse of God at the rebellion and fall of man.  And therefore man continues to think and reason the same way that caused the curse; he does it over and over and over (continually) hoping for a different outcome.But the outcome will always be the same because of God’s covenant of life and death.

But  God will never abrogate His covenant in respect of man’s persistence.  Should man persist in his vanity, then he will die the death.  That’s the covenant!

Vanity is “emptiness”.  Emptiness (vanity) is the mind and heart of man (while yearning for meaning) continuing to think and reason from some other basis than the Wisdom of The Christ.  It’s a different starting point, you see.  It’s a false starting point.  It’s empty; it’s vanity.

It’s the “wisdom” of this world order; it’s vain philosophies; it’s the babblings of man’s cursed imaginations; it’s the learned, high-sounding words of the teachers and the leaders of false religions; it’s the psycho-babble (and I use “psycho” in the sense of insanity), it’s the psycho-babble of cursed mankind constantly searching his own heart and mind for wisdom and truth, when wisdom and truth are not found there!  Do you see the insanity in that?

The covenant is one of life and death!  And the Christ of God is Way, Truth and Life!  He is the Word; He is Wisdom; He is Reason; therefore His Word is the very basis – the Starting Point – for all Christian thought processes.  That’s what faith is.

Some other starting point is faithlessness.  The Word of the Christ is faithfulness.  If you wish to be on the right side of God’s covenant of life and death, then you need to begin thinking with the mind of the Christ!  That requires repentance and faith!  And you must draw that line for the world order as you propagate The Faith and as you defend The Faith.

God will never compromise His covenant.  So in addition to living life in piety before God and man, you must not compromise the Word of the Christ.

In addition to seeing you living a pious life, the world order must hear the words of faith as you address all issues with the mind of Christ Who is Wisdom personified.  That’s where wisdom is located; therefore that must be where you begin!

That’s what God’s covenant says.

Last Lord’s Day we read four different passages of Scripture having to do with God’s covenant.  And it was obvious, from all four of those passages, that His covenant is one of life and death.  And one of the reasons it’s so obvious is that, in all four passages, God reveals a great furnace for the faithless!  And it’s the same furnace and the same darkness and the same smoke that is revealed here in the second verse of our text.  Now God brings that prophesied furnace to bear upon Israel here in the last days (as Ezekiel promised), and the smoke from that furnace has a covenantal purpose in God’s divine decree.

Now, there’s a misconception (one that we’ve addressed before) regarding authority that we need to touch on once again at this point… one that is cleared up completely when the doctrines (i.e. teachings – same word) of Scripture are seen from a covenantal viewpoint (God’s viewpoint).

And that misconception has to do with who controls what.  It’s often taught that there are two “authorities” in the creation… one being “god”, and the other being Satan.  There are locations and things and creatures that are under Satan’s authority (it is said); and there are other locations and things and creatures that are under God’s authority.  And Satan “wins” in his realm; but God “wins” where He reigns.

But if one begins reading Scripture as God reveals Himself and His creation – i.e., covenantally – then those kinds of misconceptions disappear.

We saw from our four passages last Lord’s Day that “darkness” is completely under God’s authority; that the “furnace” belongs to God; that the smoke from the furnace belongs to God; that our Lord Jesus Christ has total authority over the Kingdom and over hell and over the death, and that all the fallen creatures know God the Son, believe Him, fear Him and obey Him (even praying to Him).

There can be no question that everything in the creation is made by Him and obeys Him; and whatever the creation does is decreed by Him.

In addition to those Scriptural facts is another one… and that is that all of what John sees and hears in our text is prophesied already in the revealed Word of Christ in the older Scripture!

So, you see that the darkness and the furnace and the creatures so intensely described here by John are all doing what their Authority requires them to do.  There is a purpose for them here!  And there is nothing here that is not under the ultimate authority of the Christ – even though the creatures have a preferred “leader” in their rebellion!

And as we’ve seen many times (especially in the crucifixion of Jesus) the creatures do the Lord’s bidding – even if they don’t know that they’re doing it!

In the voice of God in the first four trumpets, I’m sure that the demon-creatures were happy to destroy the trees and the grass and the crops and the cattle and the water – all those plagues and pestilences in an attempt to cut off the Lord’s covenant people; but, all the while, our Lord was marking and sealing and rescuing every last one of His elect – the lost sheep of the house of Israel!  So all the demon-creatures were doing, in their great glee, was exactly what was covenantally decreed by God!

As smoke, as of smoke from a furnace appears to John, it is exactly the same as in the prophetic and covenantal passages we read last time.  And it is indicative of the fact that God’s furnace (so prominent in the older Scripture) has now appeared in Israel as the sanctions of the life and death covenant are brought to bear.  For, as Ezekiel prophesied, all Israel will be put into the furnace and melted; and nothing will be left but debris.

It appears (the furnace appears) here in the “last days” of the four corners of the land, the last days of the sun and moon and stars as the lights of the covenant nation are extinguished; the last days of the land’s food production; the last days of rain, as the sky becomes as brass and the land becomes like iron; the last days for fish and animal production, and the last days of anything approaching the definition of “civil” in Israel’s society.

And as the fifth and sixth trumpeters sound the voice of God (here in chapter nine), God’s furnace appears exactly as it appeared in the cutting of the covenant.   It is the last days of any sanity as the “woes” pronounced upon Israel are executed in “thirds” as Ezekiel prophesied.

As smoke, as smoke from the furnace, bellows out of the shaft of the abyss, everything is “darkened” (exactly as happened in the cutting of the covenant with Abram, and exactly as happened in the cutting of the covenant at Sinai, and exactly as Ezekiel prophesied).

And from the smoke emerge myriads of demon-creatures from the pit, all under the authority of the One Who has been given all authority – the One Who has the keys of the Kingdom and the keys of the covenant of life and death and the abyss.

Four plagues and pestilences have already been revealed to take place in the land (all without Israel’s repentance); now three “woes” begin as the next trumpeter trumpets – this is the first woe, as verse twelve says (all of them prophesied).  And the last days of Israel’s existence reach an even greater intensity as the entire nation becomes “crazed” under the ever-more-intense sanctions of God’s covenant.

Notice that power is “given” to the creatures (verse three); and the power given to them is strictly limited (verses four and five).  And having been released by the authority of the Christ, the power that’s then given to them indicates that they didn’t have this power previous to their having been given it.

And the fact that their power is limited means that they are all under very tight control. They’re told exactly what they can do and what they can’t do.  Their having nothing to do with the land – trees, grass, herbage, animals, water (all sounded previously by earlier trumpeters), these things are not included in what they’re authorized to do.

However they are given complete freedom to torment – but only among those who have no mark and seal of the covenant!!  Those marked and sealed that still remain in Israel (on the other hand) have complete freedom from these creatures.  They can walk on them without harm!

This is another example of a point made much earlier in the text of this letter, that although the Lord’s people were pursued into the nations and persecuted by Israel’s princes and priests and elders, our Lord’s wrath poured out in the covenant sanctions against Israel would not harm His elect!  For them, the Christ had already been inundated in that wrath.  His people had already been “circumcised” and “baptized” in the heat of God’s anger and the smoke of His nostrils when the Christ was crucified.  Therefore they would never be the recipients of that wrath.

Herein lies the comfort and certainty and assurance of the love of God for His people – isn’t that right?  It’s right here in the text of the Revelation!

Although we may come under persecution and affliction for The Faith, we are, for a certainty, safe in Christ from the wrath of God and the sanctions of His covenant.

Should we suffer at the hands of men for the Name of Jesus, then we are to “count it as gain” to suffer for Him, with Him and in Him. 

But, once again, God’s covenantal furnace, and the rage and indignation breathed forth from His nostrils, are no part of our future; for our Lord Jesus Christ was “baptized” (inundated) in that fury on the cross… the sign and seal of the “death” option of the covenant being inundation; and the sign and seal of the “life” option being baptism in Holy Spirit.  God’s covenant is a covenant of “life” and “death”.

As the demon-creatures are released from God’s smoke – out of God’s furnace, God’s “hades” belches forth creatures that belong to God!

All of these “things” and “locations” are created by the Word of God.  They don’t exist on their own; and they don’t exist in addition to, or separate from, all the rest of His creation!  And they would not exist should God not providentially retain their existence!

Somehow (especially in non-covenantal fundamentalist belief systems), it has become “orthodox” to think in terms of a separate “hell” where God sends folks who don’t “accept” His Son Jesus; and that that “hell” exists somewhere “apart” from God’s creation decree; and that the demon-occupants of that place are somehow independently isolated from all the rest; and that they (and their location) are outside the purvue and authority of their Creator; and that the Creator of the heavens and the earth is somehow in a war with these evil creatures and their location!!

But none of that is true.  Just listen to the psalmist as he reveals these very things in Psalm one hundred and thirty nine:


5)    You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.

6)    Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

7)    Where shall I go from your Spirit?  Or where shall I flee from your presence?

8)    If I ascend to heaven, you are there!  If I make my bed in sheol, you are there!

9)    If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

10) even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

11) If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,"

12) even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

13) For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.


So, you see, as the fifth trumpeter sounds the voice of God, and the first “woe” commences, it is God’s demon-creatures acting from their own demonic intent, and all under the authority and command of their Creator-Owner!

One of them, their “leader”, having been given the key to the shaft of the abyss, gleefully opens the shaft so the demon-creatures emerge in incredible numbers, all of them “emergent” for a limited period of time, and all of which follow the orders of their ultimate authority.

They were given special power to make life itself agonizing and miserable for all those in the land who were not “marked out” as belonging to the Christ.

The place from which they emerged did not belong to them; they did not wish to remain there; they did not come out of their own authority; they did not come out to do whatever they desired in their demonic intent; they were not free to remain free; and, for those with imaginations, there is no cosmic war with evil!  And those who say there is, are not faithing in the authority possessed by the Christ!  And, therefore, there is a misconception and misinterpretation of not only this passage of the Revelation, but the entirety of the letter!

Now.  Let’s see what the Scripture has to say about these creatures that John sees.  Are they real?  Of course, they’re real!  Are they just now being described for the first time in the Bible?  No, for there are allusions to them all through the prophetic Word.  Are they described by John in language with which man is familiar?  No, but we should all be familiar with it.  Are they here as the prophets prophesied?  Most definitely.  Is it the language in which God spoke it to the prophets, and in which He perceives His Own decree?  Of course.

Listen to the prophet Joel in chapter two:


1)    Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain; let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of Yahveh comes, for it is nigh at hand;

2)    a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness as the dawn spread upon the mountains; a great people and a strong there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after them, even to the years of many generations.

3)    A fire devours before them; and behind them a flame burns: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and none have escaped them.

4)    The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so do they run.

5)    Like the noise of chariots on the tops of the mountains do they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devours the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.

6)    At their presence the peoples are in anguish (torment); all faces are waxed pale.


And listen to a few words from Moses in chapter thirty-two of the Deuteronomy as he warns Israel of what is to come upon them in the latter days should they not obey God’s covenant.  Listen carefully for the “teeth of the beasts” and the “poison of crawling things” (or scorpions) as John sees them here in our text:


26) I said, I would scatter them afar, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men.

27) For they are a nation void of sense, and there is no understanding in them.

28) Oh that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!

29) Of the Rock that begat you you are unmindful, and have forgotten God that gave you birth.

30) And Yahveh saw it, and abhorred them, because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters.

31) And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: For they are a very perverse generation, children in whom is no faithfulness.

32) They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; They have provoked me to anger with their vanities: And I will move them to jealousy with those that are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.

33) For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and burns unto the lowest Sheol, and devours the earth with its increase, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.

34) I will heap evils upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them:

35) They shall be wasted with hunger, and devoured with burning heat and bitter destruction; and the teeth of beasts will I send upon them, with the poison of crawling things of the dust.


In Nahum chapter three Yahveh pronounces “woe” upon Jerusalem (which corresponds to our Revelation text).  Listen to how He describes what is to come upon her.  Much of the terminology is the same as what we hear in our text (as we should expect).  As Jerusalem’s merchants are as many as the locusts, everywhere trading in illicit merchandise, so Yahveh (mocking them) will bring His Own demon-locusts upon the city – stinging and tormenting them with their own locust-like behavior.  Listen to it:


1)    Woe to the city of blood, totally deceitful, full of plunder, never without prey.

2)    The crack of the whip and rumble of the wheel, galloping horse and jolting chariot!

3)    Charging horseman, flashing sword, shining spear; heaps of slain, mounds of corpses, dead bodies without end they stumble over their dead.

4)    Because of the continual prostitution of the prostitute, the attractive mistress of sorcery, who betrays nations by her prostitution and clans by her witchcraft,

5)    I am against you – the declaration of the Lord of Hosts!  I will lift your skirts over your face and display your nakedness to nations, your shame to kingdoms.

6)    I will throw filth on you and treat you with contempt; I will make a spectacle of you.

7)    Lo, your troops are women among you; the gates of your land are wide open to your enemies.  Fire will devour the bars [of your gates].

8)    Draw water for the siege; strengthen your fortresses.  Step into the clay and tread the mortar; take hold of the brick kiln!

9)    The fire will devour you there; the sword will cut you down.  It will devour you like the young locust.  Multiply yourselves like the young locust, multiply like the swarming locust!

10) You have made your merchants more numerous than the stars of the sky.  The young locust strips and flies away.

11) Your court officials are like the swarming locust, and your scribes like clouds of locusts which settle on the walls on a cold day; when the sun rises, they take off, and nobody knows where they are.

12) Your wound is severe, and there is no remedy for your injury.


So, in the mocking display of sovereign authority, our Lord looses the demon-creatures from the abyss with sound of the wings and chariots of the glory cloud and the fire and darkness of the covenantal furnace, their hair mocking the femininity of the men of Israel, their teeth as lions, the horses of Zechariah, having been waiting, now appear as the earth is as iron and the sky as brass, the tails of the horses with stings to torment the entire population as they have stung their patrons with illicit merchandise.

The immediate purpose for unleashing this woe isn’t death, but torment as the nation is being put through a series of demoniacal convulsions.  And John repeats what he told the Churches back in chapter six that in those days men will seek death and will not find it; and they will long to die, and the death will flee from them.  And our Lord had prophesied, written by Luke in chapter twenty three, that this generation of Jews would long for death… the ones who crucified Him.

There is an interesting comment on the intensifying downward spiral of depravity into homosexual insanity in the writing of Josephus; and it corresponds very well to the Word of God through the prophet Nahum that we just read.  And, by the way, these roving bands of murderous thieves toward the end of the age are also prophesied by our Lord in His Olivet discourse.  Listen to Josephus:


“With their insatiable hunger for loot, they ransacked the houses of the wealthy, murdered men and violated women for sport; they drank their spoils with blood, and from mere satiety they shamelessly gave themselves up to effeminate practices, plaiting their hair and putting on women’s clothes, drenching themselves with perfumes and painting their eyelids to make themselves attractive.  They copied not merely the dress, but also the passions of women, devising in their excess of licentiousness unlawful pleasures in which they wallowed as in a brothel.  Thus they entirely polluted the city with their foul practices.  Yet though they wore women’s faces, their hands were murderous.  They would approach with mincing steps, then suddenly become fighting men and whipping out their swords from under their clothes, they would run through every passerby.”


In our thinking about the priority of God’s Word, we confirm the account written by the historian by what God’s Word says.  And in this case, the historian is deemed correct in his observation.

Lastly, John identifies the leader of the demon-creatures, who is the messenger of the abyss, giving its name in both Hebrew (Abaddon) and Greek (Apollyon).

Abaddon means, in Hebrew, destruction.  We won’t take the time to read the passages now, but the word is used freely in the book of Job as the “place of destruction”; once, in the same manner, in Psalm eighty-eight, and twice in Proverbs.  Whereas the word Apollyon means “destroyer” in Greek.

Abaddon – “destruction”; Apollyon – “destroyer”.

And here in our text, John thus presents Satan as the very personification of death and destruction.  And, clearly, for Satan’s entire host of destroyers emerging from the place of destruction, loosed upon the Jewish nation, was hell on earth indeed.

Yet John makes it clear to the Churches that the appearance of God’s covenantal furnace here in the last days is not the worst of it; for there are two woes yet to come, sounded by the sixth and seventh trumpeters of the voice of God.

Set the trumpet to your mouth (he says).  As an eagle he comes against the house of Yahveh, because they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law.

For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind;

Israel is swallowed up; now they are among the nations as discarded pottery (Hosea chapter eight).