Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. (Revelation 9:1)
From time to time, someone will say to me, “I’m going through hell!” They are suffering and I sympathize, but they are wrong. The horrors of hell are far beyond anything we know in this world. There is coming a day, however, when the world gets a foretaste of hell. Because people reject the heaven God offers, He will give them the hell they deserve.
When we come to the eighth chapter of Revelation, six seals have been opened on the scroll, and this brings the climactic opening of the seventh seal. Beneath the seventh seal is written the decree of seven trumpets of judgment that are to be sounded. Four of these terrible outpourings of wrath are described in that chapter. The last three will be so horrible that they are called the three “woes.” We will consider two of these woes that come with the fifth and sixth trumpet blasts, as detailed in Revelation 9.
All hell breaks loose when the lid to the bottomless pit is lifted. That abyss is the present prison of some extremely evil spirits. They have been imprisoned there since they nearly led the human race into total annihilation in the days of Noah (2 Pet.2:4-5; Jude 6). They are pressing against the prison door even now—straining with all their might—hordes of hell longing to be free from their torment that they might unleash torment on the world again. That key is at last handed over to the star fallen from heaven (v.1). Jesus holds the keys for He is Lord of all (Rev.1:18), but now He will allow Satan to take the key and loose his minions.
Out boils the smoke of the abyss (v.2). The result is that the sun is darkened and the air is defiled. The demons take on the form of monstrous locusts (v.3-12). Throughout Bible history, the swarms of locusts were a sign of God’s judgment. Those brought devastation to vegetation, but these will spare the grass and strike the godless (v .3-6). Their mission is to inflict unbearable pain to all who do not have the seal of God (that is—the 144,000 witnesses and those converted by their testimony). Sinners will scream—insane with pain—yet, be unable to die. The duration of this affliction will be five months (v.7-12). Even the demons’ form will be frightening and fiendish.
After the sounding of the fifth trumpet and the first woe which ascend from below the earth, the sixth trumpet signals the second woe that descends from above the earth (v.13-21). The altar, meant to be a place of forgiveness for those who receive Christ, will become the source of fury for those who reject Him (v.13-15). If we do not accept the sacrifice of Jesus to pay the price for our sins, then we will have to pay the debt ourselves! Fallen angels are chained, but in that day loosed. These are bound up at the Euphrates River—Babylon—which is the polluted fountain of all false religion. They will be in the vanguard of an army 200 million strong (v.16-19). These will gather for the great jihad against Israel, perhaps this army is Russia and her Muslim allies (see Ezek.38-39). The most remarkable thing is that people still will not repent (v.20-21)! Their hearts are so hard; they had rather suffer this hell than submit to heaven!