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Revelation Chapter 9
Today: [Revelation 9:] Who is the Star with the Key to the Bottomless Pit? In this chapter, we uncover a sobering perspective regarding apocalyptic events that read like today’s headlines regarding societal upheaval, terrorism and the identity of a counter-Christianity that is a household name in the world.
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[Rev 9:1-21 KJV] 1 And 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. 2 And 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. 3 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. 4 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. 5 And 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. 6 And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. 7 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. 8 And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as [the teeth] of lions. 9 And 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. 10 And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power [was] to hurt men five months. 11 And 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. 12 One woe is past; [and], behold, there come two woes more hereafter. 13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, 14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. 15 And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. 16 And the number of the army of the horsemen [were] two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. 17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on 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. 18 By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. 19 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. 20 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, nor hear, nor walk: 21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
In chapter 9 the next two trumpets sound following the first four disclosed in chapter 8. There are a total of seven angels, and seven trumpets with the last three often referred to as the “Woe Trumpets” because of the angelic warning issued after the first four sound off.
The fifth angel sounds in v. 1 after which a star falls from heaven. This star is anthropomorphized (spoken of as a person) to whom is given the key of the bottomless pit. Referring to this star as a him is interesting because in Jesus’ hand in chapter one there were seven stars that were also spoken of as people (specifically the seven messengers or prelates of the seven churches). We might pause then and reflect on the events foretold in chapter 8 of a mountain (perhaps a meteor) striking the earth and a star called Wormwood plunging into the sea. If the star of chapter 9 v.1 is actually a person then perhaps those references in the previous chapter were persons also. Why ask the question? Because we want to avoid a stubborn interpretation of Revelation by only seeing it one way. Some interpreters think the stars held in Jesus’ hand and this star particularly are angelic beings. Others hold them to be specific men. There is an interpretation that touches on modern day geopolitical realities, however. Both Martin Luther and Sir. Isaac Newton believed that this star is none other than the founder of Islam and that the bottomless pit spoken of was the trackless wastes of the Arabian peninsula.
The interpretation of the star of v. 1 gains traction when you consider that the Muslim banner and primary symbol is a crescent and a star. Muslims have very well developed ideas as well about what a key represents. Having a key in Islamic symbolism is about being strong and being dangerous to one’s enemies. It also is interpreted to mean having access to wealth, power and territory through conquest. One can also make the comparison between Mohammed as the star of Rev. 9:1 with keys in his hand to Jesus as the Daystar of 2 Peter 1:9 who ascends with the keys of death, hell, and the grave. This establishes by contrast extremist Islamic belief as the exact polar opposite spiritually to Christianity as Christ conceived it. Christianity opens the path to heaven and Islamic extremism opening the torments of hell poured out upon the earth in the form of terrorism represented by the hordes of locust with stings of a scorpion who spread over the earth to bring chaos, suffering, and pain.
We see from v. 7 that the tormenting locusts are men because they have the faces of men. Their bodies resemble horses prepared for battle, and they have white hair, the teeth of lions and crowns in their heads. White hair, in this case, represents being submitted to false covering or authority. The word Islam means “voluntary submission.” As such a Muslim being submitted to the disciplines of Islam is believed to be rendered righteous based on his covering (hair) typified by the white color.
The breastplates of iron cover the hearts of these creatures and iron represents hateful judgment in this case. If Islam were a religion wholly tolerant of others, we would not be concerned, but on the contrary, the extremist elements in Islam that have come to co-opt its message completely are hateful in the extreme.
The king over these locusts if you think of them as the pervasive influence of Islamic extremism from the earliest centuries onward – is a demonic prince named Abaddon or Apollyon (meaning destruction and destroyer respectively).
This is the first woe and the second follows it with the sounding of the sixth angel. In v. 13 John hears a voice coming from the four horns of the golden altar which is before the throne of God. Again let us properly interpret this. The altar where sacrifice was made is fashioned of brass and stands in the outer court. The only other altar made of gold with four horns is the altar of incense which represents the offering up of the prayers of God’s people and the intercessory ministry of Christ. If we hear a voice coming forth out of this altar that voice is none other than the voice of prayer – again connecting the prayers of the saints with the timing of apocalyptic events. Does this mean that the church will be in the earth at this point? If you only read Revelation with a view to “when is the rapture of the church” you are going to be very frustrated as up to this point there is no symbolic reference to anything of this nature. This is not to say that something described as a catching away or catching up is not part of biblical eschatology; it just doesn’t show up at this point in the Revelation narrative.
When the voice of prayer is heard from the altar of incense before God, the sixth angel sounds calling for the release of four angels that are bound in the river Euphrates. These four angels are given power for one year, one month, one day and one hour to slay the third part of men. They command a great multitude of mounted warriors. This would be an unprecedented army of 200 million! By contrast, history tells us that few that 35 million soldiers served on both sides of the outbreak of WWI. Does this number speak of a Muslim force? This is questionable whereas the population of the entire Arabian peninsula is only 77 million. There are however 1.8 billion Muslims in the world leaving open the possibility of that particular interpretation.
The vital point to note is that according to v. 20 from God’s perspective after all these outpoured calamities men did not repent. This was true after 9/11. Our country suffered a horrible blow after which there was only military bluster and belligerence without one suggestion of national introspection even from the pulpits across our land. The scripture tells us in Prov. 26:2 that the curse shall not causeless come. Terrorism is a curse. 9/11 was the visitation of a curse upon our land and the nations of the West. That does not justify those who incite such acts against the innocent but it does, or at least it should give us pause from a kingdom perspective to ask ourselves is this because even with the rise of unchecked terrorism that our country seemed unable to entirely stem there is no questioning of ourselves. Instead, rampant hedonism, idolatry, and belligerence against God continue. They have not (v. 21) repented of their murders… what murders has the western world and the United States perpetrated? What about over 50 million aborted babies – more than the total of Holocaust deaths of WWII put together. Neither of their sorceries or fornication or thefts. In our day politicians openly advance the desire not just to win but to steal elections. What about fornication? As we are currently moving into a sooner coming election cycle, the conversation of whether or not a candidate is viable has nothing to do with their leadership or character by the frontrunners are identified by how much money can they raise from the soulless corporations on Wall Street or Silicon Valley.
How do we conclude these thoughts? We do so prayerfully. Not to gaze at our navels to the point of powerlessness or impotence but with godly humility examining ourselves as the scripture charges us to see if we are in the faith and whether our fidelities to the kingdom rise above in priority over our political sentiments or nationalism.
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