Revelation 9 contains the 5th and 6th trumpet announcements or predictions of the 7th seal. Four trumpet predictions were made in the previous chapter, and trumpets five and six are revealed in chapter 9. This shows that the events predicted in this chapter are part of the events related in chapter 8. The seventh and final trumpet announcement is revealed in Revelation 11:1. We studied the first four trumpet messages from God in chapter 8, and in this message we shall consider trumpet prediction 5 and 6. All these trumpets are simply messages from God and tell us something that God is going to do. They simply represent the sound of God's voice telling of things to come..
First, let us review the vision presented in the 5th trumpet announcement. The apostle saw a star fall from heaven, and a key is given to him. This is not a literal star, for a key was given to “him.” Thus, it must represent some intelligent creature. He used the key to open a pit. A pit is hole or cavity in the ground, but this is called, “the bottomless pit.” So this was not a literal hole in the ground. When the pit is opened, a column of dirty black smoke rises like the smoke of a furnace. Out of that smoke came a terrible plague of locusts that descended on the earth. These were not literal or ordinary locusts, for they were commanded to hurt people but were forbidden to hurt any vegetation. When struck by these scorpion-like locusts, people wanted to die but were not able to die. They just had to suffer it. They were commanded to hurt only the people on earth who were not God's people. In this book the only people who are God's people are Christians. They were exempted from the suffering inflicted by these terrible creatures.
Furthermore, these locusts had a strange and fearful appearance indeed. They were shaped like military horses prepared for battle and had a gold-like crown on their heads. They had faces like a man, hair like a woman, and teeth like a lion. Each one wore a breastplate of iron, and when they flew their wings resembled the sound of horses and chariots running to battle. Each one had a tail like that of a scorpion, and they were given power to hurt men for five months. John must have been startled with fear. The mind of man has never imagined such a fearful and hideous looking insect as John saw. One additional thing is said about this terrible army. They had a king over them whose Hebrew name was Abaddon, and his Greek name was Apollyon. That was the contents of the fifth trumpet.
Next, let us attempt an explanation of this difficult vision before we go to the sixth trumpet. You are quite welcome to question my interpretation of this vision. I will not be dogmatic. There is much disagreement among expositors on the meaning of the fifth and sixth trumpet messages. Our salvation does not depend on a clear understanding of this vision. Otherwise, it would be more easily understood. Doubtless, its true meaning had to be kept back from the enemy it was talking about. Many expositors, who follow the Historical Interpretation, apply these locusts to the Mohammedan invasion of the Eastern Roman Empire in the early 7th century A.D. and then apply the army in the 6th trumpet to the fall of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453. I differ with my colleagues who hold these views on trumpets five and six. I differ with these views because the same expositors are in agreement that the first four trumpets in chapter 8 referred to the overthrow of the ancient Western Roman Empire. Then they apply the 5th trumpet to the Mohammedan Invasion in the 7th century and the sixth trumpet to the 15th century invasion of Constantinople. Extending these predictions so far into future centuries has caused many to discredit the Historical Interpretation. I believe that the only future events referred to in the book of Revelation are events that adversely or positively affected the Church of Christ. In the past two thousand years there have primarily but such events. One was the persecution of t he church by the ancient Roman Empire, nd the other was a destructive development of a religious nature that followed the fall of political Rome. The first part of the Revelation is about political Rome, and the second part is about Religious Rome. Both events had a destructive impact on church Jesus bought with His blood.
I would agree with my colleagues of the Historical Interpretation that the first four trumpets speak of the punishment and overthrow of pagan Rome, but it is my considered opinion that trumpets 5 and 6 also refer to pagan Rome and not to events in the more distant future. It seems rather clear to me that trumpets 5 and 6 are a continuation of trumpets 1-4, and they are all talking about one and the same enemy of the Christian religion. . The locusts of trumpet 5 were to hurt only people who were not Christians. The locusts of chapter 9 may refer to one of the more severe and hurtful punishments God would bring on pagan Rome for mistreating Christians in the early centuries. But the suffering caused by these locusts was not to last but a short time. When people mistreat Christians, they also mistreat God; and all who do that will have to pay a price– if not in this world, then in the world to come.
I would suggest that this terrible locust invasion was a special punishment that would fall on the pagan Roman Empire, one which would involve much suffering. . The star that fell from heaven with a key to the bottomless pit most likely represents Satan, the ruler of the demons. With a key he opens the bottomless pit which is the abode of demons, those fallen angels who were cast out of heaven along with Satan their ruler. Revelation 20:2,3 says, “An angel . laid hold on the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound hm a thousand years and he cast him into the bottomless pit.” If we let scripture explain scripture, it is clear that the bottomless pit in the 5 th trumpet is the location of Satan and his fallen angels. The bottomless pit is the infernal region, the diabolical domain of the Devil and his angels, called “the abys” in Luke 8:31.
Knowing what this place was, it is not too surprising that black smoke belches out of the place. This smoke possibly symbolizes contamination, pollution, moral and religious evil that comes from the abode of Satan and the demons. I would suggest that the horrible-looking, dangerous and hurtful locusts that came out of the smoke symbolize demons, fallen angels. These locusts were not insects, but powerful, dangerous, fearful and hurtful evil angelic beings. The ruler of these locusts was named Abaddon and Apollyon. One is a Hebrew word and the other a Greek word, and both mean, “destroyer.” It is a very fitting title for a spiritually wicked and powerful leader of such a monstrous army of horrid creatures from the bottomless pit.
What then were these demons going to do to the people of the Roman Empire for persecuting and killing Christians? As fearful as it may sound, I can only tell you what I think. God was going to permit demons to possess these people similar to the way God permitted demon possession in the 1st century A.D. It is no more difficult to believe in demons than to believe in God. Jesus, the four gospel writers, and all the apostles taught the existence of demons and demon possession. Scripture clearly reveals there was such a thing as demon possession in the apostolic age of the first century. Scripture reveals that demons caused severe afflictions different from ordinary diseases. It may be God allowed this to happen because of the sinful condition of the world in the first century. Jesus said of that generation, “This is an evil and adulterous generation.” Those who do not believe that demon possession has ever existed in the world charge Jesus with allowing His disciples to believe in a commonly accepted superstition. If demon
possession was a superstition, Jesus would have corrected such a falsehood. God may have allowed this punishment on ancient Rome, and it should be a warning to mankind that such a thing has existed. That is my proposed interpretation of the fifth trumpet. Woe be to Rome is its message.
The remainder of chapter 9 contains the vision of the 6th trumpet announcement from God. John sees four angels bound in the great river Euphrates in Mesopotamia, now the country of Iraq. They were loosed and were prepared to kil l a third of people on earth. The earth at that time was the Roman Empire. These destructive angels permit a great army to assault the earth. There were 200 million horsemen in this army. They wore breastplates of fire and brimstone. Their horses had heads like a lion, and from the mouth of the horses came forth fire, smoke and brimstone. Their tails were like serpents and had heads and would bite people. A third part of people were killed by the fire, smoke and brimstone which came out of their mouths. All who did not lose their lives by this invading army never changed their lives for the better. They did not repent of their evil way of life, but continued to worship demons and idols of gold, silver, brass and wood that cannot see, hear or talk Neither did they repent their murders, sorceries, sexual immorality and their thefts.
I would suggest this massive army and all the symbolical powers attributed to the bodies of the horses, with fire and brimstone coming from their mouths, all these things symbolized one or more of the terrible armies of German Barbarians who assaulted the Imperial Roman Empire between 300 and 500 A.D. It could possibly refer to the army of Attila the Hun, whom secular history calls, ”the scourge of God.” They destroyed cities and burned them to the ground. Fire and brimstone was part of their military strategy.. Please notice this statement from Funk and Wagnall's Encyclopedia, Volume 3, page 786: “In 447 A.D. Attila advanced through Illyria and devastated the whole region between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.” Later other Barbarian armies invaded Italy. The World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 16, Page 394 says “The Western Roman Empire grew steadily weaker. In 410 the Goths burst into Italy and swept on to Rome itself, capturing and looting the once mighty city. In 455 the Vandals plundered Rome for two weeks. The last Emperor of Rome was a youth who bore the name of Romulus. In 476, the German chief Odoacer deposed Romulus.” Whether I am correct in affirming that the 6th trumpet predicted these final plagues
that brought the Western Roman Empire to its end, one thing is certain, secular history reveals that these great destructive armies were the final plagues which God used to destroy the greatest world empire that has ever existed.
I studied history at Indiana University, and one of the history books used by the University made this statement about Attila and his invasion: “The huns began to fill Western Europe with terror. Scarcely any part of Western Europe was left unmolested. The year 476 has commonly been taken as the date of the fall of the Western Empire and the beginning of the Middle Ages.” Within 30 years after Attila's invasion of the Roman Empire, the Empire of the Caesars which began in 43 B.C. ceased to exist and went down into defeat in 476 A.D. It is my viewpoint that all the plagues set forth in Revelation 6, 7, 8, and 9 were special judgements God brought on the Romans for persecuting the ea rly Christians and was the answer to the prayers of Christians for His providential help. . In Revelation 9:20, it seems to me the enemy on whom these judgments fell is clearly identified. We read, “But the rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.” That is almost a perfect description of the idolatrous religion, and the evil and adulterous lifestyle of the Roman people from 43 B. C. to 476 A.D. If the 6th trumpet was not speaking of the Western Roman Empire, it was some Empire just exactly like them.