All rights reserved by the author
Homer Dewayne Shappley
Chapter Four of this Commentary
The Seven Trumpets
Chapters 8, 9, 10, and 11 of the book of Revelation
The Fifth Trumpet
Also called "the first woe."
The “shaft to the bottomless pit” is opened and “smoke” came out of it “like the smoke of a great furnace.”
More prophecies of Revelation for centuries XX and XXI?
“And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit; 2 he opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. 3 Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given authority like the authority of scorpions of the earth.” NRSAV
I. Introduction. The prophecies of the Fifth Trumpet, also identified as the “first woe” (Revelation 8:13; 9:12), begin with the portentous scenario of “a star” that falls “from heaven to earth.” The “shaft of the bottomless pit” is opened and so much “smoke” comes out that it darkens “the sun and the air.” Then, “locusts” come “from the smoke… on the earth.” The appearance of these locusts and what they do are subjects of Scenes 2 and 3 of the tense and disquieting “Drama of the Fifth Trumpet."
A. I personally project the principal fulfillment of these prophecies for the “little while” (also translated as “short time” in many versions) between the end of the Millennium and the Second Coming of Christ for reasons that will become evident during the development of this exposition, including those indicating that in our time (third decade of the 21st century) the world is already entering the “little while,” a subject explored in Chapter Ten of this Commentary
B. Elemental to this exposition is the conviction that the Fifth Trumpet focuses on…
1. The mentality and actions of secular-political rulers that repudiate the God of the Bible, as perhaps also all gods and religions, during the “little while.” Heavy “smoke” out of the “abyss” and so widespread that it darkens even the sun and the air. “Locusts” that “torment” people who do not have “the seal of God.” This type of completely irreligious ruler follows philosophies the central thesis of which is summed up tersely in the declaration of the philosopher, economist, sociologist, and political theorist Karl Marx: “Religion… is the opium of the people.”
The sense of his proclamation is that religion in general, irrespective of founders, messages, or works, drugs the minds of human beings, poisoning them with dangerous, counterproductive ideas, preconceptions, and beliefs, much as opium causes its users to become dazed, disoriented, hallucinogenic, irrational, even crazy.
Do all the secular, political rulers of the entire Common Era fall in this category? Surely not. For all did not declare themselves, explicitly and publicly, to be, unreservedly, atheist.
For example, the majority of the rulers of the long-lived Roman Empire, including the emperors, were not pure atheists, but rather followers of one or another god or goddess, even several at the same time. Thus, it is concluded that Roman Empire political rulers of all ranks, from the emperors down, are not to be grouped with the atheistic rulers projected by the prophecies of the Fifth Trumpet.
The Roman Empire does not exist at the present time, nor is there any New Testament prophecy intimating its possible resurgence again before the Second Coming of Christ. Thus, it is not covered by the Fifth Trumpet, which, reiterating, is about nations existing during the “little while.”
2. Strikingly, the Fifth Trumpet prophecies spotlight the suffering inflicted by atheistic rulers on people who DO NOT BELIEVE in God. Repeating for emphasis: They are specifically about people NOT CONVERTED to GOD; definitely not about his true “children.” This, according to the key parameter which states the “locusts” were permitted to harm “only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.” Revelation 9:4. To me, a somewhat surprising and highly significant revelation on the identity of the victims of the “locusts” with the “power of scorpions.” And another evidence of how incisive and accurate Revelation prophecies are, as we shall continue to see.
II. Let us proceed to examine minutely the Fifth Trumpet prophecies, with the goal of reasonable interpretations that will orient, edify, and prepare us for their fulfillment. So that we will not be “in darkness” regarding circumstances and events that fulfill them, shaken to the depths of our being by them even to the loss of all faith in humanity and God. Rather we will be “children of light… of the day,” “not of the night.” 1 Thessalonians 5:1-7
A. The apostle John testifies: “I saw a star that had fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit; he opened the shaft of the bottomless pit …” Revelation 9:1
1. In this scenario of the Fifth Trumpet, the “star” that falls “from heaven” represents some living being. We know this because it is given “the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit,” and receiving it, proceeds to open “the shaft of the bottomless pit.” Receiving a key; using it to open. Actions not attributable to a literal star, but rather to a living being. The roll executed by the “being” points to his being one of the holy angels who serve God and “those who are to inherit salvation.” Hebrews 1:14; Revelation 19:9-1
a) This “being” receives “the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit.”
b) This “being” opens “the shaft of the bottomless pit.”
(1) The “bottomless pit” (“abyss” in several translations) is the dwelling place of all demons, that is, of the fallen angels. 2 Peter 2:4; Luke 8:28-31. Among these fallen angels is the “King… angel of the bottomless pit; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon.” Revelation 9:11
(2) The “bottomless pit” is the same place as the “prison” where Satan is bound during the Millennium. Revelation 20:1-7. In the context of the passage on the Millennium, “bottomless pit” in Revelation 20:1 and 3 is synonymous with “prison” in Revelation 20:7.
(3) It is axiomatic that Satan himself would not receive “the key” to his own “prison.” Therefore, it is deduced that the “star” is surely not Satan. It would
be incongruous that he would receive the key to the “shaft of the bottomless pit” or that he himself would open it, freeing himself from his own prison.
2. Additional circumstances and data support the conclusion that the “star” is an angel in God’s service.
a) Continuing the line of interpretation being developed, the “star” falls “from heaven to earth” during the “little while” that transpires between the Millennium and the Second Coming of Christ. In counter distinction, in the timeline, Satan fell from heaven, not as a star but “like a flash of lightning” (Luke 10:18), when Christ triumphed over him on the cross, rising from the dead, ascending to Heaven, and taking his place on the throne at the righthand of his Father and God as King of the spiritual kingdom of God and Christ. Acts 2:22-35; Revelation 12:5-17; John 20:17; Ephesians 5:5
According to the vision-prophecy of the “war… in heaven,” the defeat of Satan resulted in his being cast out of Heaven. The “great dragon… called the Devil and Satan… was thrown down to the earth” (Revelation 12:9), thus opening the way for “the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Messiah” to come. Revelation 12:10. This all took place in 30 CE. Therefore, the “star” of Revelation 9:1 cannot be Satan, for he had already been thrown out of heaven long, long before the time for the event John foresaw in the vision of the Fifth Trumpet, that “time” being the “little while” after the Millennium.
[A more detailed explanation on the question of when Satan “was thrown down to earth” is provided in Chapter Five of this Commentary.]
b) Another circumstance supporting the conclusion that the “star” of Revelation 9:1 is an angel at the service of God is the following. The binding of Satan “for a thousand years” (the Millennium) was done by an angel of God who “seized the dragon… who is the Devil and Satan… and threw him into the pit.” Revelation 20:1-3. No room for doubt here about the identity of the “angel.” It would be, then, totally consistent, and reasonable, that an angel of God, perhaps the very same one, would, as the “thousand years” are waning down, receive “the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit” and open it to allow the dense “smoke” to rise in such quantity as to darken the sun and air.
3. The “star” falls “from heaven to earth,” but not just because of that factor should we identify it as a “fallen star.”
In rhetorical and spiritual terms, a “fallen star” might represent a being “fallen into sin.” However, the affirmation in Revelation 9:1 is not that the "star” fell into sin but that it passed from heaven to earth with the purpose of carrying out a specific task, to wit: To open the “the shaft of the bottomless pit.”
4. "...he opened the shaft of the bottomless pit."
Why did he open “the shaft of the bottomless pit?” To allow the “smoke” in the shaft of the pit to rise up in such quantities that it would darken “the sun and the air.” Doubtless, this prophetical language is metaphorical.
Metaphorically, the “bottomless pit” is the place in spiritual regions where “the angels who did not keep their own position, but left their proper dwelling, he [God] has kept in eternal chains in deepest darkness for the judgement of the great day.” Jude 1:6; 2 Peter 2:4
The angel who receives the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit does not open, literally, the shaft. The places represented by “shaft” and “bottomless pit” really do exist in the spiritual spheres created by God, and the fallen angels, including Satan-Lucifer, really are “kept” in the pit “for the judgment of the great day.” The angel was sent, not to open the “bottomless pit” itself, but, figuratively, to open the “shaft,” the “smoke” rising from it also being metaphorical.
B. “…and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace.” Revelation 9:2
1. The “smoke” symbolizes “perverse philosophies, false theories, Satanic deceptions, vain imaginations, humanistic assumptions, perverted religious systems, evil patterns of logic.” Burton Coffman, Commentary on Revelation, Page 188, ACU Press, Abilene, Texas, 1979.
I agree with this application, adding that it also symbolizes every argument, every thought, “and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God.” 2 Corinthians 10:5.
It includes the thick, poisoning smoke that, in present times, comes from distortions and negations of obvious realities, particularly in the physical-social categories. Of refusing to call realities for what they are. Of creating new terminologies and agendas to make obvious, damaging, deceptive wrong look right. Of characterizing abnormal, unnatural functions as natural and normal. Incredible amounts of smoke from the “pit” pouring out of social, educational, and governing entities all around the earthly globe. And in that smoked-filled “air,” youth, and some older people too, wandering around hardly knowing who they are and why they are on Earth, not a small number resorting to drugs, alcoholism, and even suicide in an effort to deal with, live with, or die because of, their unrealities, unnaturalness, twisted verbiage, screwed up lifestyles, and vacuous ideals.
An enormous furnace of ancient times like that in which the Israelites Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown by order of King Nebuchadnezzar when they refused to worship the huge golden image he had erected. Daniel 3
2. “…like the smoke of a great furnace” signifies that during the “little while” a great quantity of “smoke,” that is, of deeply false and highly dangerous
teachings and beliefs would be made to billow and swirl around the peoples of earth! Not just a little “smoke” from a small furnace but massive quantities as from a “great furnace.”
C. “…and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft.” Revelation 9:2
1. Smoke darkens, suffocates, poisons, and kills.
2. To be sure, all beliefs and teachings spewed forth by Satan and his agents in the “pit,” as also on planet Earth, darkens the “sun” of truth and wisdom, suffocates understanding, poisons minds and hearts, and kills the soul.
The “air” may be said to represent the moral, cultural, and spiritual atmosphere that surrounds
each and every human being to some extent or another. When the “smoke” of the “bottomless pit” flows through the “shaft” and penetrates the “air” about us, anyone without the highly protective masks of sound, sensible teachings and moral, spiritual wisdom brought by Jesus Christ from his Father in Heaven is almost certain to be overcome by its deadly vapors. John 8:28
Text and Document Composition by Homer Dewayne Shappley
Scene 2 of the Fifth Trumpet. "Out of the smoke, locusts came down on the earth. And they were given power like that of scorpions of the earth."
Category. Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment. Commentary.
Revelation 10:6. Going out into the FUTURE to the LAST DAY of TIME. Looking back at planet Earth in the 20th and 21st centuries.