The Book of Revelation with commentary by Dr. Henry M. Morris and paintings by Ramona Lowe
The paintings are a work in progress and the finished pieces are highlighted in red on Page 2

Page 64

The Demonic Plagues

(Revelation 9)

     Up until this point, the great devastations that had rocked the earth seemed directed against the physical world itself, affecting man only indirectly.  Under the judgment of the first trumpet, the trees and grass were devoured by the hail and fire and blood.  Next, the creatures in the sea and the ships moored along the coasts were destroyed by the impact of a burning mass from outer space.

     When the third trumpet blew, another missile from space had poisoned the waters of the world.  Then the energy-generating processes of the sun and stars had been reduced for a time.  All of these judgments struck fear into human hearts and indirectly led to pain and death for many, but undoubtedly most survived with relatively little personal suffering.

     After a few days the sun resumed its normal shining, the grass began to grow, the water supplies were quickly treated and made potable, and men went back to their own personal concerns, again ignoring the voice of God.  When the next trumpet would sound, however – the first of the three great woes predicted by the angelic messenger they had seen flying through the heavens – every single person would indeed experience directly the mighty sting of judgment.

The Opening of Hell

     For ages Satan and his host of fallen angels have hated mankind.  Man, in fact, was the very occasion of their fall and the awful fate which they know is awaiting them.

     Satan had once been the highest of all the angels, “the anointed cherub that covereth” (Ezekiel 28:14), the “son of the morning” (Isaiah 14:12).  He was “full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12), and was in a place of unsurpassable privilege at the very throne of his Creator.  He was not an eternal being like God, however, but had indeed been created (Ezekiel 28:15).  In fact, he and all the angelic principalities and powers under his oversight had been created for the specific function of serving as ministering spirits, sent forth to “minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 1:14).

     They had been created prior to man’s creation, probably on the first day of creation, in order to be ready for this service when God was ready to create man on the sixth day.  Man, unlike the angels, was to be made in the very image of God, with the created ability to reproduce his own kind.  Although the angels were “innumerable” (Hebrews 12:22), their number was fixed and finite, whereas there was no limitation of this sort to be placed on man.

     Whether for these or other reasons, Satan was not content with the exalted position for which he had been created.  He wanted to exalt his throne above that of “the stars of God” (Isaiah 14:13) and to “be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14).  The term “stars” is frequently taken as synonymous with “angels” in the Bible (Job 38:7), possibly because angels have their domicile, as it were, in the stars of heaven, but Satan desired a still higher throne, and was able to incite a third of the angelic hosts to rebel with him against God (Revelation 12:3, 4, 7).

     Satan and all his hosts, of course, could not prevail against their Creator, and they were cast to the earth (Ezekiel 28:17; Revelation 12:9).  They should have learned obedience from this but unfortunately they did not, and they have continued in their rebellion through the ages.  The only rationale for such irrational behavior on the part of one who was “full of wisdom” is that he has strangely concluded that God is not his Creator, after all, and that he therefore may yet be able to mount a successful revolt against Him.  The tragic delusion of an eternal cosmic evolution must have had its first expression in the mind of Satan himself, attempting to rationalize his mad presumption that he could actually hope to defeat God.

     But why was he banished to Earth, out of all the infinite array of created material bodies in the universe?  Evidently because Earth was the abode of man, and because he had rebelled against his ministry of service to mankind, he was to be allowed to test man, thus determining whether man also would rebel against his Creator.

     And rebel he did, believing the same satanic deception, doubting that God was really God!  Ye shall be as gods,” said Satan.  “God is not uniquely the Creator and Ruler of all things, as He claims.  He is like us, and therefore we can be like Him.  We were all made by natural processes out of the eternal cosmic matter.  Therefore, join me in my campaign against His despotic rule.  With your ability to procreate, we can soon generate a mighty host that, together with my own angelic followers, can rout His loyal angels and we shall all be gods!”

     But again God intervened.  “Back to the dust!” said God to Adam.  “The woman’s Seed will crush you forever!” said God to Satan.  Once again, Satan’s resistance to God’s plan for man had led to awful judgment on him from God.

     There was yet another time.  When men multiplied on the earth, Satan tried to corrupt all mankind to such a degree that God’s purpose for man would be thwarted.  The sons of God possessed women, and they bare to them mighty men (Genesis 6:2-4).  A race of ungodly men and women became easy prey to demonic possession, and the satanic spirits thereby also controlled the progeny of such unions, developing them into monsters in both size and wickedness.  Satan evidently was again hoping to amass a mighty human army, possessed and controlled by his host of fallen angels (demons) to assault the loyal host of heaven.  If this were unsuccessful, he would at least thwart God’s purpose for man by thus corrupting all flesh on the earth.

     But again he failed!  “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord,” and though all others perished in the waters of the cleansing Flood, the line of the promised Seed was preserved.  The bodies of the demon-possessed men and women perished in the waters of the great sea which received the Flood waters, and their lost souls were imprisoned in Sheol, or Hades.  The angels who participated in this further act of rebellion received a special judgment, however.  “The angels which kept not their first estate [same word as “principality”], but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6).  “God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell [Greek Tartarus, the lowest hell], and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment” (2 Peter 2:4).

     Satan’s host was thus significantly depleted, even though he still controls a great army of evil “principalities [and] powers, . . . rulers of the darkness of this world, . . . spiritual wickedness in [the heavens]” (Ephesians 6:12).

     With all these defeats by God, all occasioned by his resistance to God’s purpose for man, it is small wonder that Satan’s hatred of mankind now is indescribably bitter.  He would torment and destroy every last human being if God would allow it, but the great Restrainer, the Holy Spirit, will permit him only so much latitude.  “Messengers of Satan” buffet men (2 Corinthians 12:7), demons possess and attempt to destroy men (Mark 9:17-27, etc.), Satan himself, “as a roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8), devours whom he can.  Yet God, in mercy, again and again gives grace and healing and protection against Satan’s devices, and the hatred of Satan and his angels for men intensifies more and more.

     Finally, the restraints will be relaxed, however, and the hosts of darkness will be unleashed to torment the age-long cause of their frustrations and resentments.  But even this is no victory for Satan, God simply using it as one of His means of judgment on rebellious men.  

Revelation 9:1.     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.

     The “bottomless pit” is the “pit of the abyss” (Greek abussos) deep in the interior of the earth.  Since Hades is also revealed to be a great pit in the heart of the earth, it is probable that the pit of the abyss is either the same as Hades or at least connected directly with it.  It seems clear that there are a number of different prisons in Hades.  Tartarus, where the twice-fallen angels are confined, is one of these.  Before the cross, the spirits of the lost and the spirits of the saved, were separated by “a great gulf” (Luke 16:26).  The “pit of the abyss” is possibly still another compartment of Hades, in which have been stored a horde of fearsome creatures waiting to be unleashed.  The legion of demons allowed by Christ to enter the herd of swine had urged Him not to send them to the abyss (Luke 8:31).  Possibly these demonic beings could even be the fallen angels of Geneis 6 and Jude 6, bitterly resenting their confinement and chafing to take vengeance on men, whom they regard as proximate causes of their unhappy circumstances.

     And so the judgment of the fifth angel, more fearsome than all before it, will involve giving these demons their freedom to torture those men who are still on the earth.  When the trumpet sounds, it will be followed merely by Christ turning over the key to their prison to one who will release them.

     But who is this mysterious star from heaven?  That it is not a physical “star” falling from the sky, as under the two previous trumpets, is evident from the context – “to him was given the key.”  Satan, the daystar (or “Lucifer”), son of the morning (Isaiah 14:12) had long ago been cast out of heaven, as soon as iniquity was found in him (Ezekiel 28:15).  The Lord Jesus Christ had described this scene to his disciples: “And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven” (Luke 10:18).

     The key is the perfect tense of the verb, which should be translated “fallen” (instead of “fall,” as in the King James).  It refers to action completed in the past.  John beheld, not a falling star, but a fallen star.  He had fallen from heaven long ago, though he evidently still was permitted some access to the One on the throne, in order to receive the key (Christ alone now possesses all the keys to death and Hades, as He asserted in Revelation 1:18, and so any such key must be obtained from Him).

     Though one cannot be absolutely certain on this point, it does seem most probable that Satan is indeed this fallen star.  That he does indeed have limited access to God’s presence is evident from Job 1 and 2.  It is only as man’s accuser that he is granted such audience, however; in fact, his very name (Satan) means “Adversary.”  He is the “accuser of the brethren,” accusing believers before God day and night (Revelation 12:10).  He is our Adversary at the bar of God’s justice, but Jesus Christ is our Advocate (1 John 2:2), and none of Satan’s charges will ever stand against the efficacious shed blood of the Lamb.

     Satan will have to watch all these proceedings in heaven and earth with deep chagrin and frustration.  His angry bitterness will increase as he stands by helplessly when Christ calls the dead from their graves and the living believers with them up to His throne in the heavens.  He will still be able to manipulate to considerable degree the nations on earth, but he will know his time is almost gone and will have great wrath (Revelation 12:12).  He will also see with exasperation the conversion of a great multitude even during these first months of the tribulation period, and will be desperate indeed when Christ finally gives him the key to the great pit.

Revelation 9:2.     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.

    The bottomless pit which he forthwith unlocks is literally “the pit of the abyss.”  The word “abyss” comes from roots meaning “without depth” and so is properly translated “bottomless.”  It is apparently at the very center of the earth and so, in truth, has no bottom.  Its boundaries in all directions are all ceilings; one cannot go “down” in any direction.  The pit of this abyss of Hades is apparently one of its imprisoning cells, and it is only this one to which Satan actually receives the key.

     But when he opens the gate, an amazing phenomenon occurs.  Great billows of subterranean smoke pour forth on the earth, spreading around until it darkens the air worldwide, even dimming the sun’s light.  This indicates that there must be somewhere on the earth an opening leading to a great shaft, leading down from the earth’s surface, through the crust, the mantle and the core, all the way to Hades and the pit itself.  Man has never discovered this shaft because it is apparently blocked at its exit, but this does not mean it doesn’t exist.  It has been “ordained of old” by God and its walls are impregnable, from within or without, designed by the Creator to withstand all rupturing pressures, natural or supernatural.  But when the key is finally turned, great billows of smoke, presumably from the earth’s internal heat and pressure, flow toward the surface and finally out to surround the earth itself.

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