The Fifth and Sixth Trumpets
- 5th Trumpet: Antichrist Emerges, Deludes Apostate Israel (9:1-12)
- 6th Trumpet: Advance of the Eastern Arab Confederacy (9:13-21)
5th Trumpet: Antichrist Emerges, Deludes Apostate Israel (9:1-12)
The fifth Trumpet symbolizes how the man of sin will delude the earth-dwellers in Israel (Rev.9:4). He does the same to the Gentiles in the fifth bowl (Rev. 16:10, 2 Thess. 2:11-12). This delusion is presented as a judgment from God, not so much as an activity of Satan (although it is that also). The poison that results from this delusion will produce a miserable state. We find this in the Old Testament as well. In Isaiah 8 we have the condition of the unsealed mass of the Jews just prior to the attack of the king of the North, who are vainly trusting in Antichrist for protection. Isa 8:21-22 shows the utter despair of the apostate Jews under Antichrist’s leadership.
Antichrist Emerges (v.1)
¶ And the fifth angel sounded his trumpet: and I saw a star out of the heaven fallen to the earth; and there was given to it the key of the pit of the abyss. v.1 The fifth trumpet involves a person, pictured by a fallen star. It cannot be a literal star because a star is not a moral agent, which is implied by this agent receiving the key to the abyss. Note that it is a “fallen” star, not a “falling” star. This verse is not describing the apostasy of the Antichrist, but the time when he comes forward to make history. Antichrist is only given this key temporarily. Later we see an angel using the same key to lock Satan up for 1000 years (Rev. 20:1).
The Origin and General Character of the Demonic Army (vv.2-3)
2 And it opened the pit of the abyss; and there went up smoke out of the pit as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke of the pit. v.2 The Smoke. The fallen star, or Antichrist, or the man of sin, will release the satanic influences out of the abyss. The chained angels (Jude 1:6) do not escape the abyss. They will not get out until the “great day” when they will be judged, but their influence, their machinations, rise up like smoke. The results of this are that the “sun is darkened”, meaning that any remaining moral light is blocked out, and “the air darkened”, meaning that the moral atmosphere people will breathe is full of satanic delusions.
3 And out of the smoke came forth locusts on the earth, and power was given to them as the scorpions of the earth have power; v.3 The Locusts. Here we have the agents of the fifth trumpet; demons pictured by locusts. Locusts are characterized by being extremely thorough in their actions. When a swarm of locusts passes through an area, nothing living is left uneaten. However, as we find in v.4, God will allow escapees in this case; those who have faith. We get certain high-level details about the locusts. As to their origin, the demons came “out of the smoke“; they originate from a satanic purpose, intending to blind the eyes of men. As to their format, they are called “locusts“; demons in the format of an unstoppable army (Joel 1:4-6). Locusts are know march and act in strict military formation. As to their ability, the demons had “power as scorpions“; power to inflict men with moral pain.
Their Mode of Operation (vv.4-6)
4 and it was said to them, that they should not injure the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but the men who have not the seal of God on their foreheads: v.4 Their Target. The food of these agents is not the normal food of locusts; i.e. trees, grasses, etc. This help us to understand that these aren’t literal insects. These agents will attack men; but will injure “no green thing”; i.e. no person with divine life will be hurt. Specifically, in contrast with the sealed 144,000 who are protected at the middle of the week, these demons will target the unsealed “apostate” part of the nation of Israel.
5 and it was given to them 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 it strikes a man. 6 And in those days shall men seek death, and shall in no way find it; and shall desire to die, and death flees from them. vv.5-6 Their Effect on Apostate Israel. The locusts are prohibited from killing men. The target’s lives will be prolonged while they suffer. The five months (also the natural lifespan of locusts) signifies a limited period of affliction. The effect of the army on the apostate Jews is a sudden, transfixing, paralyzing pain; “as the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man”. This is pain is in a moral sense; probably a pain in the conscience which Satan can inflict (he is “the accuser”). Men will seek death; an avenue to separation from God. They will be looking for any solution to the pain. Sadly, death will escape them.
The Detailed Description of the Locusts (vv.7-10)
7 And (1) the likenesses of the locusts were like to horses prepared for war; and (2) upon their heads as crowns like gold, and (3) their faces as faces of men; 8 and (4) they had hair as women’s hair, and (5) their teeth were as of lions, 9 and (6) they had breastplates as breastplates of iron, and (7) the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to war; 10 and (8) they have tails like scorpions, and stings; and their power was in their tails to hurt men five months. vv.7-10 Description of the Army. Next we are given eight attributes of the army of demons:
- Like war horses… they have a warlike energy.
- Crowns like gold… they boast a righteous commission from God.
- Faces like men… they appear outwardly to be independently intelligent, but…
- Hair as women’s hair… in reality they are subject to Satan.
- The teeth of lions… vicious and cruel.
- Iron breastplates… hearts are a hard as iron.
- Sound of wings… gives the victim the sense of being rapidly overwhelmed (Joel 2:5-6).
- Stings in their tails… these can poison the mind and soul the way a scorpion poisons the body. “Power in the tail“ speaks of power to deceive (Isa. 9:15). The venom is falsehood, born in the abyss. The duration of the torment is “five months” which is the natural lifespan of locust. Five is the number of human weakness under responsibility. Men are nothing in comparison with the power of Satan, and he will abuse them at his own discretion to the full extent that God will allow or that their bodies will tolerate.
Who is Controlling and Directing Them? (v.11)
11 They have a king over them, the angel of the abyss: his name in Hebrew, Abaddon, and in Greek he has for name Apollyon. v.11 Apollyon. Now we have another individual who is ultimately controlling this army of demons. This is not Antichrist. Antichrist turns the key allow the demonic influences out of the abyss (v.1), but he, as a mere man, doesn’t lead demons. “Abaddon” is Hebrew for ‘destruction’, and “Apollyon” is Greek for ‘destroyer’. This would seem to confirm the king’s identity as Satan himself. The names mean “Destroyer” in the languages of Old and New Testaments. Some have suggested that it could be another chief angel of his. In either case, Satan himself or his chief angel controls the army of demons. Make no mistake about the source of this evil.
¶ 12 The first woe has passed. Behold, there come yet two woes after these things. v.12 Two more woes. A warning is given that there are still two more woes ahead. Some will vainly hope that things cannot get worse than they are in the world, but the worst is still to come.
6th Trumpet: Advance of the Eastern Arab Confederacy (9:13-21)
The sixth trumpet describes the invasion of a huge army from the east into the Beast’s empire. The sixth bowl (ch.16) gives the “drying of the Euphrates”, the opening of the way for this army to invade. From elsewhere in scripture (e.g. Daniel 11:40, Isaiah 28:15) we know there will be an invasion into the land of the Israel by the Assyrian (the King of the North and his Arab Confederacy) just prior to the coming of the Lord that will sweep down through the land into Egypt. This will be a humiliating defeat. This correlates with the sixth trumpet, although Revelation is more concerned with the spiritual effect on the Roman empire. the difference is: the 6th trumpet is a broad look at the net effect of the Assyrian’s inroads, concentrated more with the spiritual side.1 The 6th bowl gives more the precise moment of the attack; i.e. when the Arab armies break through the Roman border at the Euphrates.
The sixth trumpet is the beginning of “the indignation”. The indignation is a 75 day period that will occur at the end of Daniel’s seventieth week. It is a technical term in the prophetic scriptures that refers to a series of judgments. A number of references will make clear that this period is when God will vent His indignation on the earth for, above all, rejecting His Son. Read more… It would appear that Antichrist will flee from Palestine when this army invades, leaving the apostate Jews defenseless (Zech. 11:17). Dan. 11:36 says that Antichrist will prosper “until the indignation”. The King of the north will sweep through the land, “desolating” it, then continue down into Egypt. This is called the first attack of the Assyrian. Read more…
The Arab confederacy, also known as the king of the north, the Assyrian, and the kings of the east, is a confederacy of ten nations, outlined in (Psalm 83). The confederacy is formed of the Muslim nations that surround Israel to the north and east. Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan (Moab and Ammon – Jordan may break up into two), the Arabians. Iran (Persia) will come in the first and second attack (Ezek. 38:5). If China militarizes, it will be confederate with Gog and Magog (Russia). There is a loose alliance in prophecy between the Arab Confederacy and the Russian Confederacy. From Daniel 8 we can conclude that Gog and Magog, although not explicitly named, will be supporting the Arab confederacy (“but not by his own power”).
The Great Eastern Army (vv.13-16)
¶ 13 And the sixth angel sounded his trumpet: and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, 14 saying to the sixth angel that had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound at the great river Euphrates. vv.13-14 The River Euphrates. The sixth trumpet describes the invasion of a huge army from the east. Although it involves a huge movement of men, there are demonic forces at play, yet all the events are under the control of God. After the trumpet sounds, “a voice” is heard. It would seem that this is the voice of God. The voice comes “from the four horns”; which speaks of universal power, combining the numeral four with the symbol of a horn. The horns belong to the “golden altar”, connecting this judgment with God’s answer to the prayers of Rev. 8:3-4. We read of four angels that are “bound at the great river Euphrates”. We know behind the movement of empires are angels and demons, such as “the prince of Greece”, “the prince of Persia”, and “Michael your prince” (Dan. 10:20). These four are fallen angels (contrast the four angels in Rev. 7:1). The river Euphrates is very significant in world history and in Bible prophecy. The Euphrates, often called simply “the great river”, was the division between East and West, and was the eastern border of the old Roman Empire (just east of Israel). This is the border that the Arab invasion will cross to invade the Beast’s empire. The attack will not penetrate all the way to Western Europe. Insteady it will be concentrated in the Middle East (Israel, etc.).
15 And the four angels were loosed, who are prepared for the hour and day and month and year, that they might slay the third part of men; v.15 The Effect of the Attack. The moment that these angels are loosed is a specific moment in the mind of God; “who are prepared for the hour and day and month and year”. Although the attack will be concentrated in Israel, the strike will cause the Roman empire (the “third part”) to collapse. It will be the judgement on the West for interfering in the discipline of God on Israel (Isa. 18; 28:15).
16 and the number of the hosts of horse was twice ten thousand times ten thousand. I heard their number. v.16 Size of the Army. The number of this army is 2 x 10,000 x 10,000 = 200,000,000. It is not clear if this number is literal. If it is, this is the largest army the world has ever seen (Joel 2:2). Note: prophetic students have calculated that the populations of these countries today could allow for a literal 200,000,000. It speaks of horses being used, and like the use of horses in Rev. 6, this may be symbolic of human agencies (Joel 2:4).
A Detailed Description of the Army (vv.17-19)
¶ 17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and those that sat upon them, having breastplates of fire and jacinth and brimstone; and the heads of the horses were as heads of lions, and out of their mouths goes out fire and smoke and brimstone. v.17 Weapons. They wear “breastplates of fire and jacinth and brimstone” which are defensive weapons. It describes what their hearts are like: possessed by satanic influences, driven by hatred, but appointed by God. “Fire” because this army is the instrument of God’s righteous judgement (Isa. 10:5, Joel 2:11). “Jacinth” (a reddish orange stone, similar to the color of flame) because of the severity of the judgment. “Brimstone” or burning sulfur, because this a foreshadow of eternal judgement. They have “heads of lions”, which might describe their state of mind (heads); it is one of terrible majesty, fearlessness, boldness (Isa. 5:26-30, Joel 2:1-11). Offensive weapons are now described; “fire”, or a sudden infliction of judgement, “smoke” or resulting confusion and blindness, and “brimstone”, a long-lasting, smoldering effect.
18 By these three plagues were the third part of men killed, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which goes out of their mouths. v.18 Their Target. Again we have this expression: the third part. It refers to the Roman earth, and to the people living there. This invading army from the east will devastate the Beast’s empire,
19 For the power of the horses is in their mouth and in their tails: for their tails are like serpents, having heads, and with them they injure. v.19 Their Power. The power behind these horses (human agencies) is: “their mouth” (what you see), Satan’s open power, and “their tails” (what you don’t see), Satan’s secret power. Contrast “scorpion-like tails and stings” (first woe, designed to blind and delude) with “serpent-like tails and heads” (second woe, desired to injure and kill). These agents have “heads”; meaning that they are intelligent and calculating, and their blow to the empire is intentionally placed and timed.
The Hardening Effect on those who are Not Killed (vv.20-21)
20 And the rest of men who were not killed with these plagues repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and the golden and silver and brazen and stone and wooden idols, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. 21 And they repented not of their murders, nor of their witchcrafts, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. vv.20-21 Those not killed. The surviving citizens of the beast’s empire (likely the great western portion, away from Euphrates) will harden their hearts, they will continue the idolatrous worship of the Beast. The result of this hardening is that the empire goes on unrepentantly in these four forms of evil: “murders” (extreme violence), “witchcrafts” (Satan worship), “fornication” (gross immorality), and “thefts”, which means the very fabric of society will begin to disintegrate.