New Defender's Study Bible Notes
9:1 star fall from heaven. This falling (or “fallen”) star is obviously an angel, not an actual star (angels are often referred to as stars in Scripture). His name, Abaddon (Greek equivalent to Apollyon—both meaning “destroyer,” Revelation 9:11), would indicate that he is either Satan or one of the principals in the Satanic hierarchy. Satan had fallen from heaven to the earth long ago (Isaiah 14:12-19; Luke 10:18), though he still has some access to the heavenly councils as “the accuser of our brethren” (Revelation 12:10; Job 1:6-11; Luke 22:31).
9:1 key. The Lord Jesus Christ, ever since His death and resurrection, has had jurisdiction over the “keys” to Hades, where many fallen angels are confined, as well as the souls of the unsaved (Revelation 1:18). Thus, at the sounding of the fifth trumpet, He will allow Abaddon to release a horde of these demonic spirits for a five-month period (Revelation 9:5), to vent their hatred of mankind on those people on the earth who are still rebelling against God. The unsaved will have yet another incentive to repent and be saved.
9:1 bottomless pit. The word for pit, abussos (Greek meaning “without a base”) is translated “deep” in Luke 8:31 and Romans 10:7. Modern versions usually transliterate it simply as “abyss.” This pit is apparently the lowest compartment of Hades, at the very center of the earth. Its “bottomless” description can thus be taken literally, since all of its boundaries are, in effect, ceilings. It probably refers to the lowest hell, or tartarus (II Peter 2:4), where “the angels that sinned” (evidently the transgressing “sons of God” of Genesis 6:1-3) are confined in “chains of darkness” awaiting their final judgment. It is probably these that will temporarily be released by Abaddon from the bottomless pit.
9:2 smoke of a great furnace. Compare Genesis 19:28. The escaping smoke seems to indicate to earth-dwellers that there are, indeed, literal fires in Hades. Somewhere on earth there is a great shaft (probably more than one—note Numbers 16:33), through which are carried the souls of the unsaved dead, and from which these demons and the accompanying smoke will issue. The location(s), if this is true, are now so covered and hidden that geologists could never locate them—only Christ has the key(s).
9:3 locusts. These are obviously not actual locusts, for they will attack only “unsealed men” and not the vegetation (Revelation 9:4). To John, however, they could only be compared to swarms of locusts. No man has ever seen such terrifying insects before or since, with the speed of war horses, the teeth of lions, and the stings of scorpions, yet with faces and armor like soldiers and hair like women (Revelation 9:7-10). Demons had long had an obsessive desire for physical bodies (note Genesis 6:2; Luke 8:30,32), so God will give them, for this brief time, bodies appropriate to their true character, allowing them to exercise His judgment on the still-rebellious men.
9:4 seal of God. The forehead “seal” had been inscribed on the 144,000 chosen Israelites (Revelation 7:4); perhaps also it will be given to others, if any, who turn to Christ under these trumpet judgments.
9:7 like unto horses. See Joel 2:4-5 (also note Revelation 9:9 here). Evidently Joel, who prophesied very graphically of the coming day of the Lord, also had received a vision of this invading swarm of locust-like demons. Part of his prophecy deals with an actual invasion of the land by real locusts, but, as often happens in the Old Testament prophetical books, the immediate vision yields to a vision of far-future events, the first being merely a type of the much greater event yet to come.
9:8 as the teeth of lions. Note Joel 1:6. The locusts seen by Joel, like those seen by John, had “the teeth of a lion,” the “appearance of horses” (Joel 2:4), and made a great sound “like the noise of chariots” (Joel 2:5). Joel also commented that “there hath not been ever the like, neither shall there be any more after it” (Joel 2:2).
9:10 five months. As suddenly as they had come, these demons were gone, no doubt herded back into the bottomless pit to await the judgment. Quite probably, like the evil spirits who had drowned the swine whose bodies they possessed for a short time (Luke 8:32-33), they left the carcasses of their locust bodies behind them on the ground. Joel says that “his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things” (Joel 2:20).
9:11 Abaddon. Abbadon, or Apollyon, means “Destroyer.” The word occurs only here in the New Testament, but six times in the Old Testament, where it is translated “destruction” (see Job 26:6; 28:22; 31:12; Psalm 88:11; Proverbs 15:11; 27:20). See note on Proverbs 15:11.
9:14 Euphrates. These four angels are also Satanic angels, for they have been “bound” because of past sin. They have not, like the previous group, been bound in the bottomless pit, but “in the great river Euphrates,” so apparently their particular sin was at a different time and place. Perhaps this particular horde of fallen angels, with their four captains, had been associated with the first great human rebellion after the Flood, when Nimrod led mankind to rebel against God at Babel, located on the Euphrates. As a result, God had scattered the people around the world, confusing their tongues (Genesis 11:9).
The invisible host of heaven, however, who had instigated this rebellion and whom Nimrod had sought to worship in his great temple tower built “unto heaven” (Genesis 11:4)—that is, with a shrine dedicated to the host of heaven, the angels and their starry realms—had not been scattered. Rather, they were confined to the Euphrates where they had established their base. This, of course, is not stated in Scripture, but seems a plausible explanation of why Babylon and its environs (including Baghdad, which has been more prominent than Babylon during the church age, as a center of the Islamic rebellion against Christ), seems ever since to have been the greatest enemy of God and His people.
9:15 a year. The demonic locusts had tortured men for only five months, but these demonic horses will ravage mankind for thirteen months, making a total of eighteen months. The previous judgments of the six seals and four trumpets will presumably take about two years, so that the events under this sixth trumpet will evidently terminate at about the midpoint of the seven-year tribulation.
9:15 third part of men. Evidently around a billion people will be slain by the Satanic army. Men could not die, though they desired to do so, under the torment of the previous scorpion-like stings; now they could hardly escape death. Already a billion people had been slain under the fourth seal judgment (Revelation 6:8), and now an equal number are killed by the Euphrates demons. All men will realize by this time that they are suffering because of their rebellion against their Creator and the One who came as their proffered Redeemer, but most will still (perhaps with a few exceptions) refuse to repent (Revelation 9:20).
9:20 repented not. The terrible army of centaur-like animals, half horse and half lion, with fire-breathing dragon mouths and serpent tails (Revelation 9:17), will eventually be slain, perhaps by the heavy artillery of modern armies. Men once again will smugly relax in their humanistic and pantheistic religions, confident in the invincibility of modern science and technology and now willingly and knowingly electing to follow Satan against God.
9:20 worship devils. The modern surge of New Age religions is, of course, merely a reversion to ancient pantheistic evolutionism, with all its trappings of occultism, spiritism, and polytheism. It will eventually become full-fledged demonism and finally Satan-worship (Revelation 13:4). Images depicting the “gods” of nature and energized by evil spirits will proliferate in the Western World just as they always have thrived in Asia and Africa, and with Lucifer recognized as the supreme pinnacle of cosmic, evolutionary consciousness.
9:21 murders. Violence will have spread over the earth ever since the rider on the red horse took peace from the earth (Revelation 6:4). Murder and robbery will become ever more common with the further breakdown of law and order.
9:21 sorceries. The word for “sorceries” actually means “druggings” (Greek pharmakeia, from which we get the word “pharmaceutical”). Ancient sorcerers and oracles commonly used mind-altering drugs to induce their visions and healings. The use of hallucinatory drugs has already become commonplace today, and will become almost universal in this future time, contributing significantly also to the rapid spread of murder, fornication and theft.
9:21 fornication. The Greek for “fornication” (porneia) actually covers all types of sexual sins—that is, every type of sexual sin outside the bonds of permanent, monogamous marriage. The modern explosion of adultery, divorce, promiscuity, homosexuality, lesbianism, incest, rape, and every imaginable perversion of God’s purpose in human sexuality, will become essentially universal in these terrible days to come.