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Revelation 9-12 Listen
Let's get our Revelation bearings
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.
Revelation 8:13 (see notes) had mentioned three "woes" that were to come. These "woes," as it turns out, are the fifth, sixth and seventh trumpet judgments. The "woe" terminology seems to indicate the traumatic impact of these three judgments. Notice from verse 9:12 that the first woe is equivalent to the fifth trumpet judgment.
This fifth angel introduces a "star" who opens up a hole in the earth and these wicked-looking little creatures (generally described as "locusts" aka "grasshoppers") ascend out of it. That "star" is personified in verse 2. Notice what Jesus said about Satan in Luke 10:18 (see notes), "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." It seems relatively safe to conclude that Satan is the "star" and holds the key to the bottomless pit. So...what is this "bottomless pit?" Notice what Jesus said in Matthew 12:40 (see notes), "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Study the notes on Matthew 12:40, and I think you will conclude with me that this "bottomless pit" is a reference to "hades." The demons of Luke 8:31 (see notes) made a request of Jesus, "And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep."
Apparently there is a corridor leading to “hades” that reaches the surface of the earth...somewhere. Up to this point, that corridor has been sealed. Jesus, himself, holds the key to this bottomless pit according to Revelation 1:18 (see notes), "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death." So, it appears that Jesus gives the "key of the bottomless pit" to the "star" for the purpose of releasing these creatures. That's the fifth trumpet judgment.
These loosed creatures only sting the bad people ("those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads") on earth; they don't bother the saved people. They are intelligent little beings with organized leadership ("Abaddon" aka "Apollyon," who is described as "the angel of the bottomless pit"). Actually, "Abaddon" is used in the Old Testament a half dozen times in conjunction with "sheol" and is translated "destruction." Moreover, the sting of these critters is so painful, those who are stung will want to die, but the sting is not fatal. Suicide attempts will be futile. You will also notice that they do not harm the vegetation on the land. This misery upon the wicked lasts for five months.
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.
Are these things that are loosed by the angel of the sixth trumpet human or supernatural? You must admit, they're waaaaay scary looking - supernatural I think - all 200,000,000 of them. It doesn't seem to be the description of an army of humans, as some teach. However, even some of the leading scholars in the area of Bible prophecy, such as John F. Walvoord ("Every Prophecy of The Bible"), are open to the possibility that this represents an incredibly large East Asian army of humans, despite their supernatural-sounding description. Whichever, they kill one third of the wicked people on earth. But do the remaining people on earth repent because of this supernatural judgment of God? NO! This is that second woe, but it is not stated as such until 11:14 (see below).
Note that these angels were loosed at a specific time. Their purpose was to slay 1/3 of the remaining inhabitants of the earth. With 1/4 having been slain as a result of the fourth seal of Revelation 6:8 (see notes), this additional 1/3 leaves about half the original population.
With this assault on the ungodly, why won't they choose to turn to God? Salvation is not about a grasp of the facts; salvation is about "faith." Psalm 10:4 says, "The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts." Romans 10:17 (see notes) says, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
1 And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:
2 And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,
3 And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.
4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.
5 And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,
6 And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:
7 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
8 And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.
9 And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.
10 And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
11 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
At this point John has an episode with an angel presenting a scroll, and he hears seven thunders. John hears audible words from the seven thunders of the angel's voice. Apparently there are judgments associated with these thunders much like the seal, trumpet and vial judgments. However, John is told not to write about the seven thunders. He didn't, so we don't know anything about their prophetic content. Likewise, the scroll was obviously more bad tribulation news. The fact that it was sweet to the mouth and bitter to the stomach (indigestion) perhaps is an indicator that sometimes good-sounding news turns out not to be so.
This angel swears by God (verse 5-6). The Greek phrase there literally reads in verse 6 “that there should be time no longer.” That does not speak of the suspension of time. It literally means “because time not to be longer.” The tribulation is drawing to a close. This "seventh angel" referenced here in verse 7 actually sounds in Revelation 11:15-19 (see below). He introduces the seven "vial" (Greek: phiale i.e. bowl) judgments. The intensity of these vial judgments would dictate that they occur in the last few days of the tribulation period. At that point, the "mystery of God should be finished." Daniel wrote in Daniel 9:24, "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy." Daniel's prophecy is fulfilled at the end of the tribulation when the "vision" will have been "sealed up."
This passage sets us up for the tough times of the tribulation in successive chapters.
While John does say in 10:1, "I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven," this is not the seventh angel with the seventh trumpet judgment. That seventh angel is clearly first introduced in 11:15. This angel is NOT Jesus Christ. The word “another” is from Greek: "allos" which means another that is similar. Whatever his mission, it is worldwide in scope.
It is worth noting that Ezekiel received his prophecy to the exiled Jews in Ezekiel 3:1 (see notes) through a scroll he was directed to eat. Ezekiel's scroll was sweet to the taste, but did not give him indigestion as seen here in verse 10. He was told to take the words and go prophesy to the exiles. His prophecy to them involved exposing their wickedness with an appeal to repent.
1 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.
2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
11 And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.
12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
Let's outline a brief time table for the tribulation.
The first portion of chapter 11 doesn't flow with the chronology of the trumpet judgments; we're still in that intermission that began at the beginning of chapter 10 (see above); the chronology resumes in 11:15 (see below). In verses 1-14 of this chapter we have two witnesses that prophesy for 1,260 days or 3 1/2 years. So, is that the first half of the tribulation or the last half of the tribulation? Or...perhaps it overlaps the two - difficult to nail down. However, I've concluded that this period probably coincides with the last half of the tribulation. The Bible doesn't say for certain. Identifying the witnesses is a little easier - Elijah and Moses. The acts done by these two witnesses are those previously performed by those two prophets. Also, at the Mount of Transfiguration in Matthew 17 (see notes), it was Elijah and Moses who appeared with Jesus. Now, there are those that insist that Enoch, not Moses, must be the other witness. They believe so based upon the fact that both Elijah and Enoch were caught up without dying. However, keep in mind, with the rapture having taken place prior to the tribulation, there will be a host of people in Heaven who will have not died. Therefore, I'm sticking with the the Mount of Transfiguration crew, Moses and Elijah.
These two witnesses have powers. They issue a deadly fire toward their enemies, and they have power over the weather, the water supply and can "smite the earth with all plagues as often as they will." Oh...one more thing: Elijah is prophesied in Malachi 4:5-6 (see notes) to precede the coming of the Messiah. This is obviously it.
Jerusalem "the holy city" is still the domain of Gentiles today...including the temple area. The antichrist kills them and leaves them in the streets. There's a celebration involving the giving of gifts at their deaths. After 3 days they are resurrected and taken up right in view of their enemies followed by an earthquake which kills seven thousand people. The saved in the tribulation ("remnant") rejoice at the sight of their resurrection. If their prophesying is to take place within the second half of the tribulation, they will need to get a start in their prophetic ministry prior to the abomination of desolation to allow the days necessary for their deaths and resurrection prior to the Battle of Armageddon in Revelation 19:11-21 (see notes). It could be that the mention of 1,260 causes us to feel that we must force their ministry exactly into one half or the other, when it really probably starts just prior to the abomination of desolation (see notes on Daniel 9:24-27, II Thessalonians 2 and Matthew 24:15 ). As a matter of fact, the introduction of the seventh trumpet judgment in 11:15-19 (see below) has an earthquake associated with it in verse 19. Due to the severity of the judgments associated with the seventh trumpet (it includes the seven vial judgments), it seems logical to assume that these seven vial judgments are closing in on the end of the tribulation period. The best fit seems to be to place the death and resurrection of these two witnesses here, perhaps a few days before the end of the tribulation itself. If that's the case, their prophetic ministry will begin a few days before the mid point of the tribulation and end a little while before the Battle of Armageddon.
There's another reference to 3 1/2 years in this passage in verse 2 regarding the temple that will exist during the tribulation. Again, does this 3 1/2 years coincide exactly with the last half of the tribulation? Perhaps not, but the linkage to verse 3 would suggest that this period does coincide with that of the two witnesses prophesying. This temple is definitely not the millennial temple described in Ezekiel 40-41 (see notes). Ezekiel's temple won't fit on the existing real estate. Click here to read about Ezekiel's temple. That being the case, this temple has to go before the millennial temple of Ezekiel is to be built! Perhaps the earthquake of 11:19 (see below) takes it out as well.
In verse 14 the chronology resumes (though for a short time), and we are told that the second woe is completed, awaiting the third and last woe. Therefore, that second woe was obviously the judgment of the sixth trumpet angel in Revelation 9:13-21 (see notes).
15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,
17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.
18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.
19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
Verse 15 introduces the seventh "trumpet" angel who declares that the end of the tribulation is now in sight and that the Kingdom of God/Heaven is nearing being established on the earth. This will be the culmination of all the Old Testament prophecy concerning the Messianic Kingdom - the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant (see notes). We saw these twenty-four elders first in Revelation 4-5 (see notes).
The seventh trumpet judgment is shown here, but without cataclysmic consequences on earth. It seems likely that this seventh trumpet must be the introduction of the seven vial (bowl) judgments that follow, just as the seventh seal judgment appears to introduce all of the trumpet judgments. We get a summary of the last few days before the end of the tribulation in these verses. Also, we get a glimpse of the real temple in Heaven in this passage, the presence of which is confirmed by Paul in Hebrews 9:11-28 (see notes). I'm convinced that this event marks the last few days before the end of the tribulation. You'll see that the vial judgments are so severe (all described in Revelation 16, see notes), the earth will be reeling from their effects. We're getting ready to see the final battle at the end of the tribulation (but we'll have to wait until Revelation 19:11-21, see notes).
1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Here's another chapter that does not fit into the chronology. We call it a parenthetical chapter. These first six verses summarize the conflict between Israel and Satan. The woman is obviously Israel. Recall the dream Joseph had back in Genesis 37:9 (see notes), "And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me." Yup...the woman is Israel here.
The baby here is Jesus who was born out of Israel. The dragon is Satan along with a description of Satan incarnate (the one found in Daniel 7:7-8, see notes and Revelation 13, see notes), the beast (aka antichrist). The stars of Heaven are fallen angels along with the description of their fall which is expanded in verses 7-9; that part is historical. Verse 4 is an obvious reference to Herod's attempt to destroy the Messiah by having the babies slain (Matthew 2, see notes). Yet future Messiah references are found in verses 5-6 which happen to coincide with Old Testament prophecy. One such prophecy is found in Isaiah 9:6-7, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this." There's your ruling in Revelation 12:5. The ascension of Jesus in Acts 1:9-11 (see notes) is referenced also here in verse 5 where the Acts account reads, "And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."
The fact that the woman flees into the wilderness characterizes the last half of the tribulation ("a time, and times, and half a time" rendered as "time"-1 year, "times"-2 years, "half a time"-6 months, totaling 3 1/2 years) as describes by Jesus himself in Matthew 24:15-51 (see notes) when he was describing the last half of the tribulation. Chapter 12 fits cleanly into the prophecy by Jesus described in Matthew 24:15-51.
Incidentally, many prophecy teachers feel strongly that the exact place to which the remnant of Israel will flee is east on the other side of the Dead Sea into the mountainous region of Bozrah ( in current-day Jordan). This position is based upon Micah 2:12 (see notes). That scenario seems likely.
Michael is referenced in verse 7, just as he is in Daniel 12:1 (see notes), "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book."
We see in this passage Israel surviving the tribulation even though being heavily pursued by the Satan himself, having assumed the human form of the Beast (aka antichrist) of Revelation 13 (see notes). God will miraculously deliver Israel out of the tribulation. So chapter 12 begins in Heaven before the garden of Eden and explains Satan's malicious tirade through the centuries all the way to the end of the tribulation. This sets up the Battle of Armageddon.