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“And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth; and  to him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit, and there arose smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; andthe sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit” (Revelation 9:1,2).  

The first two verses describing the fifth trumpet seem to be a review of the third and fourth trumpets. In the third trumpet “a great star fell from heaven.”[1] The fourth trumpet shows the darkening of the sun, moon, stars, day, and night which results from the falling of the star. The fifth trumpet shows the specific cause of the darkness: “the sun and air were darkened because of the smoke of the [bottomless] pit.” Apparently the “star fallen from heaven” of the fifth trumpet is not a new star,[2] but instead is referring to the same destructive “great star” that was portrayed in the third trumpet.[3] It causes the same darkness that was seen in the fourth trumpet. What is new in the fifth trumpet is the opening of “the bottomless pit” and the destructive forces that emerge from it.

The Greek word for bottomless pit, abussos (often translated abyss), is the same word that the Greek Septuagint uses to depict the watery, chaotic conditions of the earth before the first day of creation[4] (“darkness was over the face of the deep” Genesis 1:2). Abussos is also used for the reservoirs of water that burst forth to destroy the earth at the time of the flood—“the fountains of the great deep were broken up” (Genesis 7:11). Demons begged Jesus not to send them to the abyss (Luke 8:31). The beast of Revelation 17, who is Satan himself, comes from the bottomless pit, (Revelation 17:8) and Satan will be chained in it for 1000 years (Revelation 20:1-3). Apparently the bottomless pit symbolizes both the earth in chaos and the dark, chaotic realm of Satan and the source of his destructive activity. As we will see later in this chapter, he is the "angel" and "king" of "the bottomless pit" under the name "Abaddon" or "Apollyon," names which mean destroyer in Hebrew and Greek respectively (Revelation 9:11). The physical, social and spiritual chaos that results from the first four trumpets gives him a “key” or opportunity to bring about his “woes”.

Continue to next section:    9:3, 7-9  THE LOCUST ARMY

[1]  In the third trumpet the verb form for the word “fell” ("a great star fell from heaven" Revelation 8:10) is the simple past, pointing to the moment when the star fell. In the fifth trumpet John “saw a star fallen from heaven” (Revelation 9:1).  The perfect participle of the verb, “fallen,” is used to emphasize the aftermath and results of the falling. 

[2]  There is the possibility that the “star fallen from heaven”  who had “the key to the bottomless pit” is the same being as “the angel of the bottomless pit”  (Revelation 9:11).  It is true that stars are sometimes used as symbols for angels, but this usage seems less likely because 1) chapter 9 is not highly symbolic (see 8: Trumpets: Literal or Symbolic?).   2) It seems inconsistent that in verse 1 they would call this a star and in verse 9 an angel.

[3]  The translation of pronouns describing the two stars causes some confusion. In the third trumpet, “a great star fell from heaven…and it fell on a third of the rivers” (Revelation 8:12). In the fifth trumpet John “saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit” (Revelation 9:1).  The implication is that the first star is a neuter “it”  and the second is a personal “he”. The  Greek word for star, astir, is masculine in both passages. In the third trumpet  there actually is no pronoun in the Greek, but if one is used in translation to English it should be “he” to be consistent with the gender of the word “star” and the pronoun usage in 9:1.

[4]  The first day of creation in Genesis 1 was not the beginning of matter. Obviously the earth existed (covered with water—see Genesis 1:2) and in fact there was even life in other parts of the universe (Job 38:4-7). It is interesting to note that before God began his creative work the world was a “bottomless pit” and at the end of time when He withdraws the world returns to that condition.

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