Revelation Chapter Nine
Spiritual warfare – it’s a topic that is deliberately avoided by many Christians to their detriment, and as we continue on this conveyor belt of time into the future, we shall see an increase of demonic activity as described within the book of Revelation’s pages. For this reason Christians need to be educated in what is transpiring and will transpire, and receive what the word of God says is necessary to prepare us and protect us now and for what awaits in the days ahead. We need to understand what is happening around us in the spiritual realm, and Revelation Chapter Nine reveals the spiritual climate in the latter days in which we are living.
Chapter Nine is part two of the warning period of the seven trumpets that precedes the great tribulation which begins in Chapter Fourteen. Chapter Eight is part one. The judgments released in that chapter are environmental affecting land, sea, water and sky. In Chapter Nine the fifth and sixth trumpets are sounded representing two of the three “woes.” These three woes all deal with war; the first, spiritual warfare, the second, physical war and the third, God’s war on the wicked which is released by the seventh and final trumpet in Chapter Eleven, verse fifteen. As with the environmental judgments, these first two woes are also progressive and will continue building in intensity until their culmination in the great tribulation which is described from Chapter Fourteen to the Lord’s return in Chapter Nineteen.
The first verse of Chapter Nine begins with the sounding of the fifth trumpet. –
And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven to the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
We are shown in Revelation 1:20 that stars represent angels. This star in verse one falls from heaven telling us that this is a fallen angel, not one of God’s faithful. It is interesting to note that this angel is given the key to the bottomless pit. Jesus is the one who, through His victory on the cross holds the keys of hell and death (Rev. 1:18). Therefore we see that this releasing of demonic activity described in the following verses is being released with God’s permission. We shall come to an understanding of why He is permitting this evil to be released on mankind as this study progresses.
And he (the fallen angel) 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 (verse 2).
The darkness is symbolic of spiritual darkness blocking out the light and veiling the minds of men from the light of God. An increase in volcanic activity in the last days could be a physical sign that might possibly correlate to demonic eruptions. The physical pollutions of mankind through their sins are a reflection of this spiritual darkness.
The prophet Joel prophesied of a time of great darkness preceding the Lord’s return at the sound of a warning trumpet. –
Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the Lord comes, for it is nigh at hand; a day of darkness and of gloominess a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains – (the morning – a beginning of judgments upon the mountains which represent worldly kingdoms).
The Lord’s coming is preceded by a time of great spiritual darkness, a falling away from the light of true Biblical Christianity; and out of this spiritual darkness there arises an invasion of locusts upon the earth. –
And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power (verse 3).
These locusts are symbolic of demons, showing us that there will be a dramatic increase in demonic activity as a result of man’s rejection of God’s word. These locusts are given power and this power comes from the devil; “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). These locust demons are as consuming as earthly locusts and dangerous as scorpions.
And 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 (verse 4).
The seal of God is the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). The command not to hurt any green thing, or that which is living and has sap, is telling us that these attacks are not directed on the environment, they are not literal locusts that target foliage, but these are demonic attacks focusing directly on people who have not received Christ. No one who has rejected the Messiah Jesus can be sealed with the Holy Spirit for their protection. The green things mentioned in this verse are also symbolic of that which is living and can relate to those who are alive and living to God through His Spirit. Christians who have been sealed by the Holy Spirit, who are abiding in the Vine of Christ will be protected from being destroyed by the mental attacks these demons represent. The sealing is upon the foreheads of God’s people showing us His protection upon their minds.
Is it a coincidence that the reference numbers of Rev. 9:4 match Ezekiel 9:4 which also describes God’s sealing His servants to protect them from the judgments on those who have rejected His word? –
And the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof” (Ezekiel 9:4).
To confirm that we are dealing with spiritual attacks on the mind in these first verses of Revelation nine we read: –
And to them (the locusts/demons) 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 strikes a man (verse 5).
Tormenting demonic attacks upon the mind can sometimes happen very suddenly striking with the intensity that could be likened to a scorpion’s sting. Some Christians have experienced acute depression hitting them instantly. While they were allowed to experience being attacked, the depression left because of the anointing of the Holy Spirit that directed these believers into intense prayer and worship which resulted in swift deliverance, unlike those described in verse five, whose torment was of a long duration, lingering for five months or one hundred and fifty days which is the approximate time of the season that literal locusts operate, from May through September.
Many scholars have related these passages in Revelation nine to the rise of Islam in the seventh century AD, and their all-consuming attack upon Christianity during that season. Islam is not excluded from the picture as we shall see, but we note that in these particular verses we are shown that men are
tormented, not killed, which does not match militant Islam’s mode of operation.
We continue reading. –
And in those days shall men seek death and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them (verse 6).
This is telling us that because of the increase of demonic activity there will also be an increase of suicides; people seeking death as a release from their mental and emotional torments, but death will not end those torments. When the body dies the soul will continue on in its darkness. Those who have willfully rejected Jesus as the Messiah and His blood atonement, will discover to their horror that death will not release them from their demonic tormentors.
So we conclude that these first verses can’t relate to the physical death that resulted from Islam’s conquests, however, as we contemplate the structure of this vision described in Chapter Nine, we note a change in the following verse. We see the symbolism of the locusts transformed into images related to men. –
And 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 (verse 7).
The demon locusts released from the bottomless pit torment spiritually, and now we see them with faces of men showing us that these demons are now being used to influence and control people “to hurt men.” –
And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions (verse 8).
The hair like women could relate to an actual physical description of Islam’s ancient warriors with yellow turbans like crowns of gold. The reference to the lion’s teeth designates them as predators.
And they had breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle (verse 9).
We are being shown a picture of a great army of predatory people. –
And they had tails like unto scorpions and there were stings in their tails: (weapons) and their power was to hurt men five months (verse 10).
Islam overcame the Middle East in the seventh century and that event was to be the foreshadow of its resurgence described in this vision of events that are transpiring before the Lord’s return. Remember, the evangelists that are sealed in chapter seven (the 144,000) are seen with the Lord on Mount Zion in Chapter Fourteen, just prior to His second coming; and the first trumpets have already sounded, so the symbolic season of five months that this army is operating in is contained within the last generation that precedes the Lord’s return.
We are informed that this demonically influenced army has an unseen leader. –
And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abbadon, but in the Greek tongue his name is Apollyon (verse 11).
So far we have been shown that prior to the Lord’s return there will be an increase in spiritual warfare and demonic activity influencing men and a rise of militant Islam. For a confirmation of these facts, you may consult your daily newspaper.
We have now reached the conclusion of the first woe. –
One woe is past; (or has been released) and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter (verse 12).
The second woe is released by the sixth angel; it covers the remainder of Chapter Nine, and continues through Chapter Ten and Chapter Eleven to verse fourteen. The second woe concerns physical war. A brief summary of the events that occur during this second woe includes the releasing of the
four demons in the Euphrates, a time of evangelism described in Chapter Ten which continues into Chapter Eleven to the rapture of the two witnesses (candlesticks/churches) in verse twelve.
The third and final woe which is released in Chapter Eleven, verse fifteen, is God’s war or judgment upon the wicked which occurs prior to the second coming and encapsulates the period of time beginning with verse fifteen of Chapter Eleven to Chapter Nineteen.
And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God (verse 13).
The sixth angel blows the warning trumpet that signals the release of the four fallen angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates, and the angel of the sixth trumpet receives his instructions from God’s altar. This tells us that what is about to transpire upon earth is being permitted by God and that He has control over these events.
Heaven commands…saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, "Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates" (verse 14).
These angels of war are released from the Euphrates, a location in the Middle East, where the wars these demons represent will begin. There are four angels and the number of them suggests multiple wars that will affect the four corners of the earth.
And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay a third part of men (verse 15).
There are four increments of time mentioned in this verse that suggests a progressive build up that could correlate to events that are transpiring on earth and these events are preparing the way for the release of these devils at this crucial moment in time that precedes the end of evil’s rampage upon the earth and its inhabitants.
And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them (verse 16).
John was told the number of this massive army because obviously there were so many that it was beyond his ability to count them. Many scholars see this event as the battle of Armageddon because of the correlating reference to the Euphrates in Rev. 16:12 and that verse’s reference to Armageddon, the last major battle before the Lord returns. There is no doubt that the vision John is witnessing in Chapter Nine is related to this conflict, but we need to consider the prophetic elements involved that help us to understand the timing of this event in relation to Revelation’s structure and the correlating visions given to us in Daniel’s prophecies.
Jesus told us that there would be many wars before His second coming (Matthew 24:6,7), and Daniel’s prophecies concerning the antichrist shows us that there also is war during his reign (Daniel 11:40,41,44). It is also quite possible that a major war, not Armageddon, which is referred to only as a battle and not a war, could actually be instrumental in putting the beast and the antichrist in control of the world’s economy. In other words, there is a definite progression of time between the releasing of the angels from the river to the actual invasion by the massive army John sees in this vision.
To support this we note that the angels are released from “the great river Euphrates,” indicating that the river is seen as a great river in its fullness containing water. In Revelation 16:12, which occurs during the third woe of God’s judgments, the sixth angel pours his vial, or bowl upon the Euphrates and the waters are dried up. So we see that there is a period of time that elapses as the river is drying up, possibly from the droughts that are released during the warning period of the first four angels in Chapter Eight. As we have seen, those judgments affect the environment progressing from one third of the planet to one hundred percent in Chapter Sixteen.
The New York Times has reported that the Euphrates River is currently in the process of drying up,17 as are many rivers all over the world. Apparently we are witnessing the fulfillment of Revelation’s prophecies right before our eyes.
If the massive army John witnesses in this vision, “The kings of the East,” (16:12), is the same army that is being assembled for Armageddon, it is an event in the future and does not occur immediately after the release of the four angels of war. What John is seeing is the beginning of the demonic manipulations upon mankind that will result in multiple wars and the future result of these wars is Armageddon. We note again that Armageddon is referred to as a “battle” in 16:14. A battle occurs as part of an existing war, and is not a war in itself. Armageddon is the final attempt by the devil to overcome God’s word and that war began when Jesus ascended into heaven and the persecution of the church was instigated in response to Jesus’ overcoming victory to redeem mankind.
While a physical battle may be taking place upon earth at that time, there will be another battle under way in the heavenly realm that will correlate to events taking place upon the earth. We know that the Lord and His followers will be the victors in this battle. The book of Revelation was given to the church so we could see the eventual outcome and begin cheering the victory in advance.
Getting back to Revelation nine, we see that John is being shown the army in more detail. –
And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat upon them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone (verse 17).
John has no point of reference to describe what a modern army would look like, so here he is being shown a prophetic equivalent of modern weapons of war. Here we see horses representing transportation and the lion’s faces are symbolic of devouring predators breathing elements of destruction. –
By these three was the third part of men killed, by fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths (verse 18).
Fire destroys the flesh which could be symbolic of conventional weapons, bombs and gun fire. Smoke and brimstone affect breathing, which could represent nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. I believe God was sparing John from actually seeing the effects of these weapons which are far more terrifying than horses with lion faces breathing fire.
John begins to tell us about the power he is being shown in these monsters. –
For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt (verse 19).
The predators of this army have tails like serpents (representing demons), and these tails have heads. This is a reference to the demonic influence and intelligence behind the fire breathing mouths. The motivators of this destruction are demonic, and mankind is all too willing to allow themselves to be controlled by this evil.
People look at the world the way it is today and so many have the audacity to blame God for this ruin, when it is man that has created his own hell through his rebellion against the Lord. God has given people the ability to change this world for the better, but they refuse to abide by the Creator’s instructions that will precipitate the restoration of their planet.
And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, hear, nor walk: (are lifeless) neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication (This includes all forms of sexual sin) nor of their thefts (verses 20, 21).
Mankind has been given a promise from God that if they repent, and the Biblical meaning of the word means to turn from their sins, then the world will be transformed as God has said. –
If that nation against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do to them.
And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it does evil in My sight; that it obeys not My voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them (Jeremiah 18:8-10).
I the Lord search the heart, I try the reigns, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings (Jeremiah 17:10).
We shall reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7,8).
Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things comes the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience (Ephesians 5:6).
Sadly we are told in these last verses, that even though God sees that man has the ability to turn from his evil ways, they will refuse to abandon those things that the Creator of this world has said will cause its ruin.
We have reached the end of Chapter Nine and in this chapter we have witnessed demons being unleashed that will veil the world and the minds of men with darkness. Amid the darkness that is and will encompass this planet, are sparks of light illuminating the desperate world around them with the hope of God’s salvation through the Messiah Jesus. Like a life raft thrown out into the storm, these ones work fervently to reclaim the souls of men from destruction. While we are told in the last verses of Chapter Nine that the majority of men will not repent and be willing to let God change them and their world, there will be a remnant among them that are seeking a way out of the black cave of mankind’s sin.
Jesus asked us to pray that God would send workers into His burgeoning harvest. He has called all of us to be light bearers of His truth. As we contemplate what has been revealed to us in Chapter Nine, we look ahead to what is about to transpire in Chapter Ten. We see a temporary clearing in the darkness where the church will receive a set of new marching orders before the world descends into its final holocaust.
Revelation Chapter Ten
copyright 2013 by H.D. Shively
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