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Revelation chapter 9

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King James Version

1And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. 2And he 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. 3And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 4And 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. 5And to them 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 striketh a man. 6And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. 7And 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. 8And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. 9And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. 10And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. 11And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon. 12One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.

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).
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