Revelation 9:1-21, Commentary
Trumpet 5, aka the first “woe” (9:1-12). Previewing the “restraining” power of angels (9:1), and the prison in which demons are held (9:2), we see a horde of “locusts” descend upon the earth (9:2-3). Perhaps as fascinating is the first mention in Revelation of a “bottomless pit.” From two Greek words, phrear and abusson, the phrase describes not only the grave, but a significant prison-like restraining area of the demon world.
The idea of the pit s not first a New Testament one. As early as Job, men were said to go there (Job 33:8) and God is said to be keeping people from going there (Job 33:30). There are at least 3 Hebrew words that describe this hole, or trap, but in every case it seems clear that this is the place of departed spirits.
King David seems to differentiate the godly from the others who go to the pit. (Psalm 28:1, 143:7, 30:9). And later, with the prophets, the Pit has become the future abode of none other than Lucifer and other such evil ones. Isaiah14:15, which also mentions Sheol, the grave, speaks of how Lucifer will be brought to the lowest depths of the Pit. Later, in Isaiah 24:21-23, exalted ones “on high” and kings of the earth are gathered as prisoners in a pit, as though shut up in prison, and all of this in a context of the last days.
Ezekiel is in full agreement here. Ezekiel 26:20 speaks of the wicked city of Tyre, and how it is consigned to the lowest parts of the earth. There, the inhabitants will meet the “people of old.” In Ezekiel 28, the “prince” of Tyre is to be thrown down into the Pit because of his proud heart. Later in the chapter, the “king” of Tyre is described as one who was in Eden, as the “anointed cherub”, cast out of the mountain of God. In 31, Ezekiel sees Egypt delivered to death in the depths of the earth, among the children of men who go down to the “pit.” In 32 a whole array of nations join the Egyptians. All are referred to as “those who go down to the pit.”
So it is not unusual that, in Jesus’ time, as a group of demons (Luke 8:31) were being confronted by the Son of God, they begged that they not have to be sent to tan abusson.They truly believed in a gathering place of departed and fallen spirits. Romans 10:7 suggests Ankara Yös kursu that this place of death is that which was visited by Jesus Himself during the time of His death on Calvary. Some would say that I Peter 3:19, speaking of Jesus preaching to “spirits in prison”, is also a reference to those days.
Then there is the classic passage of Paul regarding the restraining of Satan, II Thessalonians 2:7-8. The recent interpretation that calls for a removal of the Holy Spirit from the earth (!) doesn’t quite do justice to the text. Rather, it is angels who restrain the “beast” in this very Pit which we see first in the passage before us.
After chapter 9, the Pit is mentioned several other times. Most crucially, it is said that the “beast” arises from this pit. This can only happen after he is released, and thus no longer restrained (11:7, 17:8). That must mean he is in that Pit now! Those who theorize that antichrist is alive today are correct, I believe. Alive in the Pit, having lived on earth once before. The final reference to the Pit is in Revelation 20, where the key, now back in “good” hands, is used to bind Satan, as the beast was once bound.
That brings us to 9:1, the fallen star. That’s not “falling”, as in meteor showers. And that’s not really “star” as in heavenly body. Rather, we are back to chapter one, where star means angel. And here, fallen angel. This particular one is given a name in verse 11. The angel of the bottomless pit is Abaddon, aka Apollyon. In either Hebrew or Greek, his name means “destroyer.” The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). From the moment he is given authority, i.e., the key to the bottomless pit, he is destroying. The angel that has been guarding this pit for centuries, allowing in and out only what God desires, now turns over the entrance to Satan’s rep, if not Satan himself. I tend toward the former (rep) idea because (1) Satan has names of his own, and needs not to be referred to as Apollyon or Abaddon. (2) Satan is not omni-present; he is already on the earth as the beast. Recall that the Book of Revelation is not sequential in many places. The Tribulation is already underway in this chapter, which means antichrist has already risen from this very pit. But now his forces are given even greater authority and destructive power. They certainly must think they are winning this thing! But all is in the perfect plan of God, the one who sees even the sparrow fall!