The Fifth and Sixth Trumpet Judgments

November 1, 2015 | Speaker: Bro Jurem Ramos


We are looking at the Seven Trumpet Judgments of Revelation, which, along with the last seven Bowl Judgments will happen during the Great Tribulation period or the last 3 ½ years before the second coming of Jesus. These seven trumpet judgments are God’s response to the prayers of the saints and they are more severe than the seal judgments.

Last week, we looked at chapter 8 where we find the first four Trumpet judgments. The blowing of the first four trumpets release God’s destructive force that affect three aspects of the world of nature. The first trumpet affects the earth and vegetation. The second and third trumpets affect the sea and the waters as well as marine life. The fourth trumpet affects the heavenly bodies. These devastating disasters remind us of the OT plagues in Egypt during the time of Moses and the Exodus. As I said before there is no reason why these plagues should not be taken literally. The same God who sent real plagues in Egypt can do so again in the last days with greater intensity if He so desires. God is sovereign and nothing is impossible for Him.   Today, we are going to continue our study of the Seven Trumpet Judgments and we will focus on the fifth and the sixth trumpets in Revelation chapter 9. But before doing that we will first look at the warning found in 8:13.

THE Eagle’s Warning (8:13)

  After the first four trumpet judgments that happen immediately one after another, we would expect the continuation of the remaining three trumpets. But as what often happens in the book of Revelation, there is an interruption at this point.   We encounter here a warning or an announcement of the final three trumpet judgments. The announcement was that the next three trumpets would be more severe and devastating than the first four trumpets.   But what is unusual about the announcement is its source. John saw and heard the warning coming from an eagle. Verse 13 says, Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice.   Some conclude that because the eagle was talking this has to be symbolic. But we need to realize that, occasionally in the Bible, we read of animals receiving the ability to speak as in the case of the serpent in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:3-5) and Balaam’s donkey in Numbers 22:28-30.   The eagle flew directly overhead so as to be seen by all, and cries out in a loud voice so that everyone is able to hear its warning.   The eagle utters a threefold woe: “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth.” “Woe” is used throughout Scripture as an expression of judgment, destruction, and condemnation. God’s wrath and judgment will come upon “those who dwell on the earth.” This phrase “those who dwell on the earth” occurs seven times in Revelation for the unbelieving world in its hostility to God (6:10; 11:10; 13:8, 12, 14; 17:2, 8).   These last three trumpet judgments are going to be worse than the previous four so that they are described as the three woes.  
  • Rev 9:12 The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come.
  • Rev 11:14 The second woe has passed; behold, the third woe is soon to come.
  Here is how Robert Mounce describes the greater severity of these judgments:   John required but six verses to set forth the first four trumpet-plagues (8:7–12). But now he is about to devote over three times that space to the next two plagues. This added emphasis corresponds to the seriousness of the calamities that follow.   The first four plagues describe calamities unleashed in nature: the earth, sea, rivers, springs of water, and the celestial bodies, and the people were merely discomforted. But the next two plagues describe grotesque creatures of demonic origin that are unleashed to torment the people.  
  • The first Woe (9:1–12) is a multitude of demonic locusts that emerges from the Abyss and spreads out over the land to torment everyone not marked with the seal of the living God. The pain and distress are so great that although people seek death they are unable to find it.
  • The second Woe (9:13–19) is a demonic cavalry of some two hundred million mounted troops who, riding their fire-breathing horses, sweep over the land, killing a third of its inhabitants.
    Now let’s look at the fifth trumpet.


A. The Abyss and Demonic Locusts 9:1–6

  When “the fifth angel blew his trumpet,” John “saw a star fallen from heaven to earth.”  John had already seen several heavenly bodies fall from heaven to the earth but this star differs from the previous stars that were described under the sixth seal (6:13) and third trumpet (8:10). Those stars were inanimate objects. This star, however, represents a person because of the personal pronoun "he" which is used to refer to it (9:1,2).   What is the identity of this “star”?   Some say that this “star” may be a reference to Mohammed because of his reputation for gathering armies and leading them against corrupt Christianity. But the text says that this star was "fallen from heaven" and that the locusts that he released from the abyss could hurt only those who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. If those who had the seal referred to genuine Christians then the analogy breaks down because it would be far too much to assume that every true Christian was untouched by Mohammed's conquests.   There are also others who say that because this star is “fallen from heaven” then this should refer to Satan because the word “fallen” indicates Satan’s fall from heaven. They also support this by connecting this star in 9:1 with the angel of the abyss in 9:11.   I disagree that this star is Satan for the following reasons:  
  • It is not clear that the star of 9:1 is the same person as the “angel” of 9:11.
  • The star in 9:1 does not have to be a fallen angel. In OT "stars" sometimes referred to angels but not necessarily fallen angels. (e.g., Job 38:7, “when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy”). Most probably, this star is simply one of the many unfallen angels throughout the book of Revelation who are “dispatched on a divine mission to advance the next stage of God’s punishment against the rebellious earthdwellers” (Robert Thomas).
  New Unger’s Bible Handbook:   The seer sees 'a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth.' This 'star' is the angel custodian of the pit of the Abyss, the prison house of the demons (Lk 8:30- 31). That he cannot be Satan, or even an evil angel, is shown by the fact that he is the same angelic personage who once again opens the pit of 'the Abyss' to bind and imprison Satan prior to the millennium (20:1-3). He is an angel fallen from heaven, not a fallen angel, the past participle 'fallen' describing the swiftness of the angel's descent and the suddenness with which this first woe bursts upon wicked earth dwellers.  
  • The “angel” in 9:11 may not be Satan but just another fallen angel who is also confined in the Abyss and is released together with the demonic locusts as their king.
  • It is too much to attach theological significance to a passing detail in the unfolding of one of the trumpet judgments (Robert Thomas).
  John saw that the star was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. This indicates God’s sovereignty. God decrees the time of opening and closing of this place to allow temporary freedom to the evil spirits who are confined here to do their destructive deeds that are described in 9:3-5.   The bottomless pit, aka the abyss, in the New Testament refers to the abode of the evil spirits with the exception of Rom 10:7 where it appears to be the place of the dead. In Revelation, where the word occurs seven times, the word signifies the place inhabited by the demonic locusts and their demonic prince (ch. 9). It is also referred to in 11:7,8 as the place from which the beast arises. It will be the place where Satan will be imprisoned during the thousand-year period following the return of Christ (20:1–3). The demons, whom Jesus casts out of the man called Legion, beg him not to send them into the Abyss, because it is their prison where they await the Judgment Day (Luke 8:31; 2Pe 2:4; Jude 6).   Here in this passage the abyss or bottomless pit is connected to the surface of earth by a  “shaft” or “well” whose opening was secured by a lid of some sort. When the shaft that leads to the bottomless pit is opened, from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace. The picture John presents is that of thick smoke which darkens the light of the sun and pollutes the air. and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. “It is as if hell itself breaks loose to mar, pollute, and defile God’s creation.”   Then from the smoke emerged a new terror. 9:3a, “Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth.” John MacArthur writes: A locust plague can darken the sky and blot out the sun, turning day into night. One swarm over the Red Sea in 1889 was reported to have covered 2,000 square miles. The destruction they can cause to crops and other vegetation is staggering. This parallels the eighth of the Egyptian plagues (Ex. 10:12-20).   Yet these were not ordinary locusts, but demons or fallen angels who assume a locust-like form. "These demons are described as locusts because they bring massive, devastating, rapid judgment from God" (MacArthur).   Evidences that show these are not ordinary locusts but demons are the following:
  • They have the angel of the abyss as their leader (9:11).
  • They come from the abyss where evil spirits are imprisoned.
  • They attack men rather than consume vegetation.
  • They have the ability of demons to assume another form.
  • The gospels show that demons could enter the bodies of animals such as the pigs in Mt 8:30-32.
  • Perhaps they have ability to take the form of animals too. Lev 17:7 talks about goat demons. These demons were thought to appear in the form of goats. The Egyptians, particularly in the province of Mendes, enthusiastically worshiped the god Pan who was supposed especially to control over mountainous and desert regions (JFB).
  • In Rev 16:13-14 three demons appear as frogs: “13 And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. 14 For they are demonic spirits.”
  • Locusts have no stinging tails as scorpions do but these demonic locusts have such tails and they have power of inflict pain that is far worse than that of actual scorpions.
  • They have a form such as no human being has ever seen.
  In this judgment God brings demons into direct contact with the unrepentant people, but strict limitations were placed on their activities. In 9:4, these locust demons were not allowed to touch what locusts usually destroy, the vegetation. The reference to the grass of the earth suggests that some time has passed since the first trumpet judgment scorched all the grass that was then in season (8:7). The damaged grass has grown again.   The demonic locusts receive a further limitation in 9:5: they were not allowed to kill the sinners, but they were tormented as the torment of a scorpion when it stings a man. Under the third trumpet, death was possible (8:11), but not here. In the NT “torment” entails pain, either physical (Mt 6:8; Rev 12:2) or mental (8:29; 2Pe 2:8), or metaphorical (Mt 14:24; Mk 6:48). The duration of the torment is five months. This corresponds to the normal life span of locusts which is from two to five months.  

B. The characteristics of the demonic locusts (9:7-12)

  7 In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle.   JM:  John can give only an approximation of what this spiritual army looked like, as the repeated use of the terms “like” (used eight times in this passage) and [“in appearance”] indicates. To describe the supernatural and unfamiliar demon horde, John chooses natural and familiar analogies.   He begins with the head and moves progressively toward the tail of the creatures.  
  • The general appearance of the locusts was “like horses prepared for battle.” They were warlike, powerful, and defiant, like horses straining at the bit and pawing the ground in their eagerness to charge forward on their mission of death.
  • On their heads John saw what looked like crowns of gold. The crowns they wore are victors’ crowns, indicating that the demon host will be invincible. People will have no weapon that can harm them and no cure for the terrible torment they inflict.
  • That their faces were like human faces, suggests that the creatures have the intelligence and capacities of human being, not just that of insects.
  • They had hair like women’s hair (9:8). This is a feature that differentiates the creatures from natural insects and adds to the gruesomeness of the demonic army.
  • Their teeth were like lions’ teeth. These teeth denote voracity, yet in spite of their fierceness, these demons do not tear their victims apart.
  • They had breastplates of iron. - Breastplates of iron are designed to protect the vital organs of the soldier and so here they symbolize their invincibility and invulnerability.
  • John compares the sound of their wings to a moving army, noting that it “was like the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to battle.” The loud rushing sound of the swarm creates a formidable psychological problem for mankind and implies the hopelessness of resisting them (Robert Thomas).
  • 9:10              As awesome to the eye and ear as these other elements of the special locusts are, they are only peripheral in comparison with the damage caused by their tails. And they have tails, like the tails of scorpions, and stings, and their power in their tails is to hurt men for five months. The power to inflict torture lies in these scorpionlike tails with stings. (Robert Thomas).
  • 9:11              A further characteristic of this locust swarm is their leader: “They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon.” The identifying of this commander-king as an angel is further evidence these are not regular locusts.
  Robert Thomas:   Some think that this angel is Satan, but the fact that Satan is "the prince of demons" (Mt 12:24) does not necessarily make him king over the demons confined in the abyss. His domain is the heavenly places, not the lower parts (Eph 6:12). Nowhere does Satan have a connection with the abyss until being cast into it later (20:1-3). Satan will become prominent later in the book (Rev 12 ff.), but it unlikely that this obscure reference introduces him this early. When he does enter the sequence, his introduction is dramatic. (12:3,9).   This angel is not the star who unlocks the Abyss in 9:1. This angel is better viewed as a high-ranking demon in Satan’s hierarchy. Satan has leaders and sub-leaders under his command (cf. Eph 6:12).   John notes that “his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon.” Abaddon means "destruction" or "ruin" and Appolyon means "exterminator" or "destroyer.”     9:12 The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come.   Having described the first woe (8:13; the fifth trumpet judgment), John cautions that God’s wrath has not run its course. Two woes (the sixth and seventh trumpet judgments, including all the bowl judgments) are still coming after these things.   With the 6th trumpet, the severity of the judgments increases even more than the fifth. Here is how Robert Mounce describes the increasing intensity:   The intensity of the trumpet sequence continues to mount. From plagues of hail, and fire mixed with blood that scorched the earth (8:7), a burning mountain that fell into sea turning it to blood and leaving death in its wake (8:8), a blazing star from heaven falling into inland waters and causing bitterness and death (8:10–11), and a darkening of the sun and moon that plunged the world into darkness (8:12), we move to a swarm of demonic locusts released from the netherworld to torment unbelievers (9:1–11). The sixth trumpet-plague (the second Woe) is even worse. Now demonic cavalry, two hundred million strong, come charging across the scene of history. From their lionlike heads come fire, smoke, and sulfur, and with their tails they inflict lethal damage. A third of the unbelieving world falls before their murderous assault.  


A. The Release of the Four Demons (9:13-15a)

  13 Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, 14 saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”   Robert Mounce: When the sixth angel sounds his trumpet, [John hears a voice coming] from the golden altar commanding this angel to release of the four angels of destruction who have been temporarily restrained at the eastern boundary of the empire. Only here does one of the trumpet-angels become involved in the event that he heralds. unleash the four angels of destruction.   The voice could be that of the angel-priest of 8:3–5 who presented the prayers of the saints to God upon the golden altar. ... John is recalling the fundamental truth that the prayers of God’s people play an active role in the eschatological drama. That the voice comes from the altar that is “before God” is a reminder that divine retribution is a personal act of the One whose sovereignty and love have been rejected by the unbeliever.   That the four angels are bound indicates that they are demons (20:1ff.; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6), since holy angels are nowhere in Scripture said to be bound. These angels are not connected with the four restraining angels of 7:1. This earlier group was stationed at the four corners of the world (rather than being bound at the Euphrates, 9:14) and held back the winds of destruction (rather than being released to bring about destruction, 9:15).   JM: The use of the definite article “the” suggests that these four angels form a specific group. Their precise identity is not revealed, but they may be the demons that controlled the four major world empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Daniel 10 provides insight into the warfare between holy angels and the demons that influence individual nations. Whoever they are, these four powerful fallen angels control a huge demonic army set to wage war against fallen mankind when God releases them to do so.   Robert Mounce: The four angels are said to have been kept ready for this specific moment. 15 So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year. At the exact moment decreed by God the angels of destruction and their demonic horde will be released upon the human race.   Robert Thomas: This sounds the note of divine providence that recurs so often in this book. God's actions are not accidental, but planned and precise in time, to the point of a fixed hour of a fixed day of a fixed month of a fixed year. All the forces of history are under His sovereign control.  

B. The Deadly Attack (9:15b-19)

  15 So the four angels … were released to kill a third of mankind. 16 The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number.   JM: Death, which had taken a holiday under the fifth trumpet (9:5–6), now returns with a vengeance. The shocking purpose for the release of these four demon leaders and their hordes was so that they would kill a third of mankind. The judgment of the fourth seal killed one quarter of the earth’s population (6:8). This additional third brings the death toll from these two judgments alone to more than half the earth’s pretribulation population. That staggering total does not include those who died in the other seal and trumpet judgments.   The terrible slaughter will completely disrupt human society. The problem of disposing of the dead bodies alone will be inconceivable. The sickly stench of decaying corpses will permeate the world, and it will take an enormous effort on the part of the survivors to bury them in mass graves or burn them.   To slaughter well over a billion people will require an unimaginably powerful force. John reported that the number of the armies of the horsemen was an astonishing two hundred million (twice ten thousand times ten thousand). This is likely an exact number, or more general specifications, such as those used in 5:11 and 7:9, would have been used. Then, as if anticipating that some skeptical readers would doubt that huge number, John emphatically insisted, “I heard their number.” The use of the plural “armies” may imply that the attacking force will be divided into four armies, each commanded by one of the formerly bound demons.   … [T]he impossibility of marshaling, supplying, and transporting such a vast human force all over the globe also argues against this army being a human army. The figurative language used to describe this army’s horses suggests that this is a supernatural rather than human force.     John briefly described those who sat on the horses. “and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur.” Perhaps this indicates that these horsemen were demonic in nature. The colors of their breastplates are the very colors and features of hell (14:10; 19:20; 20:10; 21:8).
  • 14:10 he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb
  • 19:20 These two [the beast and the false prophet] were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.
  • 20:10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur.
  • 21:8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death
  Horses are frequently associated with warfare in Scripture, but it is clear that these are not actual horses. Using the descriptive language of his vision, John noted that the heads of the horses were like lions' heads (v.17). This may suggest their ferocity and destructiveness.   John noted three ways that the demon horses killed their victims: and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. 18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. 19 For the power of the horses is in their mouths   As if the description he has already given were not frightening enough, John sees more about the deadly power of the demons. He is made aware that not only is the power of the horses in their mouths, but also in their tails. “their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound.These images describe the supernatural deadliness of this demon force in terms that are commonly understood in the natural realm. Unlike the scorpion stings inflicted during the previous demonic assault (9:5), the snakebites inflicted by this host [will kill].  

The Response of the Survivors (9:20-21)

  JM: The death of one-third of the earth’s remaining population will be the most catastrophic disaster to strike the earth since the flood. Yet in an amazing display of hardness of heart, the rest of mankind not killed by these plagues still refuses to repent. Mounce: “Once the heart is set in its hostility toward God not even the scourge of death will lead people to repentance.”   As he concludes his account of this amazing vision, John lists five sins representative of the defiance of those who refused to repent:  
  1. First, v.20 says, The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk.”
  Mounce: The “work of their hands” that people choose to worship rather than God are the idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood. The folly of idolatry is a common theme in Jewish literature. Gods of wood and stone “cannot see or hear or eat or smell” (Deut 4:28). They have eyes but do not see, ears but do not hear, and feet but do not walk (Ps 115:5–7; cf. Ps 135:15ff.; Dan 5:23). At the same time heathen idolatry was considered to be worship rendered to demons. In following after strange gods the Israelites had “sacrificed to demons” (Deut 32:17). In the NT Paul writes that the Gentiles sacrifice “to demons, not to God” (1 Cor 10:20).  
  1. Second, violent crimes like “murders” will be rampant. Without any sense of morality, killings will increase.
  1. Third, John mentions “sorceries.” It comes from the Greek word pharmakōn which can refer to poisons, amulets, charms, drugs, magic spells, or any object that is supposed to possess holiness, elicit lust, or be otherwise enchanting. It can refer to witchcraft too. Usually drugs were involved in such practices. Drugs were and still are believed to induce a higher religious state of communion with deities. Sorcery is listed by Paul as one of the works of the flesh (Gal 5:20), and later in Revelation it proves to be the method by which Babylon deceives the nations (18:23).
  1. Fourth, “immorality” will prevail. The Greek word is a general term that can include any sexual sin. Indescribable sexual perversions will be rampant in that day.
  1. Finally, people will refuse to repent of thefts. As the plagues will result in increasingly scarce supplies of food, clothing, water, shelter, and medicines, theft will increase.
  Sorcerers, sexually immoral, murderers, idolaters, and liars are in the lists of those excluded from the New Jerusalem in 22:15 and thrown into the lake of fire (21:8). Doubtless this is because of their failure to repent of their law-breaking.   God’s purpose in the agonizing plagues described in chs. 8-9 is to bring people to repentance (cf. 16:9, 11). MacArthur: Certainly Satan would want to kill all the unregenerate to keep them from repenting. But God, in His mercy, will give people torment for five months, during which they cannot die but will be given the opportunity to repent and embrace the gospel. The five months will be for many people the last opportunity to repent and believe (9:20–21; 16:9, 11).   EBCa: God is not willing that any person should suffer his judgment but that all should repent and turn to Him (Lk 13:3, 5; 2Pe 3:9). But when God’s works and words are persistently rejected, only judgment remains (Eph 5:6; Heb 10:26-31).  
  • Eph 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
  • Heb 10:26-31 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
  JM: In light of that coming judgment, it is the responsibility of all believers to faithfully proclaim the gospel to unbelievers, thereby “snatching them out of the fire” (Jude 23).