Welcome to A Revelation of Jesus. In our last video we looked at the first four of the Seven Trumpets, which describe a series of fiery attacks, incited and orchestrated by Satan, that will throw the world into chaos. But these are nothing compared to the locust army that comes next. God sends His angel to warn the world, “Woe, Woe, Woe! To the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpets of the three angels who are about to sound!” (Revelation 8:13).
The first Woe begins with an ominous development. “Then the fifth angel sounded: And [John] saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit” (Revelation 9:1,2).
What or who is this star?
Many commentators contend that Satan is the fallen star. They point out that in Revelation chapter 12 the “fiery red dragon,” later identified as Satan, “drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth” (Revelation 12:3,4).
The stars are symbolic of the fallen angels, so the fallen star in the fifth trumpet could be Satan, who is also a fallen angel. Even Bible translators seem to support this interpretation. Most versions render verse 1, “[John] saw a star fallen from heaven to earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit” (Revelation 9:1). In English we would say “to it” when talking about a star, so to call this star a “him” implies that it is a personality rather than an object.
Although it is possible that the fallen star is Satan, I think it is unlikely. In a later video we will see that Satan appears in the fifth trumpet, but he is called “the angel of the bottomless pit” (Revelation 9:11).
It seems inconsistent for John to call Satan a star in verse 1 and an angel in verse 11. We also saw in video 29 that this part of the trumpets uses literal similes and comparisons rather than symbolic metaphors. For example, in the second trumpet, John saw “something like a great mountain burning with fire” being thrown into the sea. It wasn’t a real mountain, but it looked like one to him.
Now notice the third trumpet. “Then the third angel sounded: and a great star fell from heaven burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water” (Revelation 8:10). Here also we see a falling star, but the translators don’t call this one a “him”; “ A great star fell…it fell on a third of the rivers.” There actually is no difference in the Greek gender of the falling star in the third trumpet and the fallen star in the fifth trumpet. It is the decision of the translators whether they consider the star an “it” or a “he”.
Personally, I think that the falling star of the third trumpet and the fallen star of the fifth trumpet are the same star. In video 29 I suggested that the explosive impact and fires from the first three trumpets caused the smoke that darkened the sun, moon, and stars in the fourth trumpet.
Now I am suggesting that in the fifth trumpet we see the star that fell in the third trumpet and the smoke which darkened the sun, moon, and stars of the fourth trumpet. The fifth trumpet calls this scenario “the opening of the bottomless pit”. The point is that in the fifth trumpet the star and the smoke are not new events. What is new is what comes out of the smoke and darkness.
With this discussion in mind, let’s look again at Revelation 9:1, using the New International Version which I believe gives a more accurate translation of this verse: “The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss” (Revelation 9:1).
The abyss, from the Greek word Abyssos and translated as “the bottomless pit” in other versions, is first mentioned at the very beginning of the Bible in the ancient Greek version of Genesis. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep” (Greek Abyssos) (Genesis 1:1,2).
In this passage the abyss is the deep, dark water that covered the earth before God began to pronounce His words of creation.
The same word is used to describe the source of the devastating flood waters in the time of Noah: “All the fountains of the great deep (Abyssos) were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened” (Genesis 7:11,12). Many other Old Testament verses use this word to describe the unfathomable, chaotic, watery depths.
In the New Testament this word is only used twice outside of Revelation. In Luke 8:31 a legion of demons begged Jesus not to send them into the Abyss. This reminds us that there is a place of demonic confinement— Peter tells us, “God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment” (2Peter 2:4).
The other New Testament use of the word Abyss is in the book of Romans, “Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)” (Rom. 10:7) In this verse the abyss refers to the depths of the grave.
Considering both the Old Testament and New Testament meanings of the word abyss, it seems like John is describing a condition rather than an event. The burning fiery hail, burning mountain, and especially the burning star of the first three trumpets will send up billows of smoke and create dark, chaotic conditions that are in some ways similar to the watery chaos before creation. But besides the darkness and chaos, the reference to the abyss shows that there will be a supernatural element as well.
The prison of demons will also be opened, and demonic forces will add to the horrors of the war that is the major focus of the first half of the Seven Trumpets.
You may recall the demons in Luke chapter 8 that begged Jesus not to send them into the abyss, but instead to allow them to enter a herd of swine. When Jesus did so the maddening influence of the demons caused the swine to plunge over a cliff to their death. This kind of demonic influence ascending from the opened abyss will goad on the terrifying locusts that emerge from the smoke to attack “those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads” (Revelation 9:4).
“Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads” (Revelation 9:3,4).
When we consider the extensive description of these locusts it is obvious that John is not talking about insects.
“The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lion’s teeth. And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle. They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails” (Revelation 9:7-10).
As interesting as it is to speculate about the technology used that is being described in this passage, I think it is much more interesting to look at the links to the prophecy about similar locusts in the Old Testament book of Joel.
The prophet Joel also describes a war that takes place in the last days, the invasion of a locust army. The remarkable links between the locust army of the fifth trumpet and the locust army in the book of Joel show that they are one and the same.
The first woe begins when “The fifth angel sounds his trumpet.” Joel also says “Blow the trumpet”.
In Revelation “there came out of the smoke locusts”. Joel also sees “the swarming locusts… My great army”.
The appearance of the Revelation locusts “was like horses”. In Joel too “their appearance is like the appearance of horses”.
Both the locusts in Revelation and in Joel had “teeth like lion’s teeth”.
The sound of the Revelation locusts’ wings “was as the sound of chariots, of many horses”. Joel’s locusts were also “like swift horses… they run with a noise like chariots”.
Finally, the power of the Revelation locusts “was to hurt men” and likewise, “before [Joel’s locusts] the people writhe in pain”.
|LOCUST ARMY OF REVELATION 9:3-11
|LOCUST ARMY OF JOEL
|“The fifth angel sounded his trumpet” (9.1)
|“Blow the trumpet in Zion” (2:15)
|“There came out of the smoke locusts” (9:3)
|“The swarming locust… My great army” (2:25)
|“The appearance of the locusts was like horses” (9:7)
|“Their appearance is like the appearance of horses” (2:4)
|“Their teeth were like lions’ teeth” (9:8)
|“His teeth are the teeth of a lion” (1:6)
|“The sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots, of many horses” (9:9)
|“Like swift horses, so they run, with a noise like chariots” (2:5)
|“Their power was to hurt men… their torment was as the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man” (9:10,5)
|“Before them the people writhe in pain” (2:6)
This many links with identical language show us that the locust army of Revelation 9 is the same as the locust army described in the book of Joel. The description in Joel confirms that the locusts are not insects, but rather an army that the prophet saw but could not adequately describe with the vocabulary and technology of the time.
- “For a nation has come up against my land” (Joel 1:6),
- “A people come, great and strong” (Joel 2:2),
- “The locust…my great army, which I sent among you” (Joel 2:25),
- “Over mountaintops they leap, with a noise of a flaming fire that devours the stubble, like strong people set in battle array… they run like mighty men, they climb the wall like men of war; everyone marches in formation, and they do not break ranks. They do not push one another; everyone marches in his own column. Though they lunge between the weapons, they are not cut down… the earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble” (Joel 2:5-10)
Joel is obviously describing some kind of military (war) equipment and operation, and since the locust army in Joel is the same as the locust army in Revelation, it too is describing a real war with real weapons. As I mentioned in video 29, several commentators have compared John’s description of the locusts with attack helicopters. This could be the case, or perhaps some still future technology is being described.
The weaponry of the locust army seems to be unusual, causing severe pain but not death; perhaps chemical, biological, or radiation. “And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God in their foreheads. And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. In those days people will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them” (Revelation 9:4-6).
In Joel’s description of the Locust war, we also find confirmation of what we learned in video 27: this war takes place at the end of time, not during a historical period.
Joel says of this timeframe, “I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth… the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord” (Joel 2:29-31). Peter quotes these words in Acts 2:20 to describe the signs in the heavens that will take place just before the Second Coming of Christ.
The war that is described in Revelation and in Joel is the most extensive and the most destructive of all time. As we will see in the sixth trumpet, it involves 200 million soldiers, and a third of mankind will be killed! We might expect that a war of this magnitude, taking place just before Christ’s return, would be mentioned in other prophecies. An amazing link between the book of Joel and the book of Daniel will enable us to learn more details about this war, including the identities of the combatants
Joel indicates that the locust army will be defeated. He quotes God as saying, “I will remove far from you the northern army, and will drive him away into barren and desolate land, with his face toward the eastern sea and his back toward the western sea. His stench will come up, and his foul odor will rise… The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord” (Joel 2:20,31).
There are four points of particular interest in this passage:
- the locust army is called the northern army. The ancient Hebrew and Greek read “the one from the north”,
- the northern army will come to its end,
- defeat will take place between the two seas that form the borders of Israel, the eastern Dead Sea, and the western Mediterranean Sea,
- this will take place during “The Day of the Lord” when “the sun and the moon grow dark” (Joel 2:1,10), in other words, during the time of the end.
The same identifying points that Joel used to describe the end of the “northern army” are also found in Daniel 11, describing the fate of the “King of the North”.
Daniel writes, “At the time of the end… (Daniel 11:40) the King of the North (v. 40) will invade the Glorious Land” (v. 41), a name Daniel uses for the land of Israel. He will “plant the tents of his palace between the seas” (v.45), that is, between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. “But he shall come to his end, and no one will help him (v. 45).
Comparing these points with the description of the defeat of the northern locust army of Joel, we see that these passages are describing the same war. This means that the King of the North, Joel’s northern locust army, and the locust army described in the fifth trumpet, are all the same.
From this we learn that the fifth trumpet of Revelation represents the beginning of the last battle in a fierce contest that has been ongoing for nearly 2,500 years: the war between the Kings of the north and the Kings of the South.
The details of this war are presented in the vision of Daniel 10-12, and although it is written in a style that is difficult to understand, there are a number of landmarks that make it possible to identify who the antagonists have been through the progression of history and who they will be at the end of time. In the next video we will take a detour from the Book of Revelation to study Daniel chapter 11, and by putting what we learn there together with the book of Joel and the Seven Trumpets of Revelation we will get a more complete picture of the Great Tribulation.
All of this talk about wars and tormenting locusts is kind of scary.
But stepping back and looking at the big picture, there is comfort for the followers of Jesus. The most basic is Jesus’ promise “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
This applies even to the time of trouble. The fearsome locusts are permitted “to harm… only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads” (Revelation 9:4). The Trumpet plagues are like the plagues of Egypt: “There was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt… But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings” (Exodus 10:21-23).
This was not because God loved the children of Israel more than the Egyptians; He loves everyone. “The Lord… does not want anyone to perish, but wants everyone to come to repentance” (2Peter 3:9). But when those who have rejected God see the difference between their experience and that of God’s followers, many of them will flee to the safety and security of Jesus, just as a great multitude of Egyptians did when the Children of Israel escaped from Egypt.
And that’s how the story of the trumpet war ends in all three versions:
- In Daniel, “There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was… and at that time your people shall be delivered… to everlasting life (Daniel 12:1),
- In Joel, “The heavens and the earth will shake, But the Lord will be a shelter for His people” (Joel 3:16),
- And in Revelation, “The nations raged… and the time has come for judging the dead, for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints and all who fear your name, both small and great” (Revelation 11:18 ).
God will use even the time He has granted to Satan for war and tribulation to save all who are willing into His eternal kingdom.
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