What does Revelation chapter 9 mean?John's Revelation from Jesus has shown God's judgment on the earth, first symbolized as the opening of seven seals, and now as the blowing of seven trumpets. Chapter 8 described the last seal, which inaugurated the trumpets. The first four resulted in catastrophic destruction to trees and grasses, the seas, fresh waters, and even natural light. Even so, the prior verses warned that the impending judgments would be even worse.
Chapter 9 begins with the fifth angel's trumpet. John observes a "star" falling to earth, which is immediately said to be given a key. "He," clearly, is not a literal astral body, but a person. In connection with other statements made in Scripture (Isaiah 14:12), this is most likely Satan. Importantly, Satan is "given" this key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. This is not a power or authority he naturally possesses. This abyss is the realm of confinement for some demons, and Satan's use of the key releases a horde of creatures. Their mission is narrowly defined: to torment only non-believers, and not with death. Rather, like scorpions, these locust-like beings will cause agonizing and inescapable pain for five months (Revelation 9:1–6).
Though briefly described as "locusts," these demonic creatures are only vaguely like the common insect. John describes them as resembling war horses, to be expected since locust heads and horse heads have a similar shape. They wear what appear to be crowns, either a literal piece of jewelry or a golden colored band on their head. John depicts them with women's hair, lions' teeth, iron armor, and thunderously loud wings. Some suggest these are John's attempt at describing something like a modern helicopter. The leader of these creatures carries names in Hebrew and Greek, both meaning "The Destroyer" (Revelation 9:8–11).
Chapter 8's ending warned that the last three trumpet judgments would be far worse than the first four. The sixth trumpet precedes a voice from the altar in heaven. The voice commands that four angels be released from imprisonment at the river Euphrates. Since God's angels are free, these beings are fallen angels—demons. Their role has been carefully planned, and their release delayed until a specific instant in time. Their purpose is to kill one third of the remaining population of earth. The four angels seem to command a vast army, given a specific number by John: two hundred million troops. John's description of his "vision" here again leads to speculation that he might have seen modern military equipment. The army kills a third of mankind, by smoke and fire from their mouths (Revelation 9:12–19).
The Bible often speaks of mankind's stubbornness and disobedience. God's actions during the end times, in some ways, are meant to make this clear and obvious. Despite the horrific judgments that will happen, humanity at large will still refuse to repent and come to God in faith. This passage refers to idolatry—possibly in both a literal and a metaphorical sense—as well as using a Greek word implying drug use. Sadly, even when God's power and prophecy are on full display, most people will refuse to turn from sin and submit to their Creator (Revelation 9:20–21).