The Fifth Trumpet and First Woe

“And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, ‘Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!’

Revelation 8:13 NKJV

Beginning with the blast of the fifth trumpet, the earth enters into the first of three woes. In our last post, we defined woe as a condition of deep suffering or trouble leading to calamitous ruin. God has steadily increased his judgments, from social upheaval and death (Rev. 6:1-8) to harm upon the earth and the seas (Rev. 8:6-12). Now His judgments of wrath will physically affect people on earth.

What is the reason for these judgments?

God’s purpose is to wake people up, cause them to turn from their wicked, sinful ways and be saved. For example, God did the same thing to the Jews–who didn’t heed the warning– when He allowed the Babylonians to conquer Jerusalem in 597 B.C. In the book of Ezekiel, this prophet wrote at least fifty times of God’s purpose–to make them know that He is the Lord.

And they shall know that I am the Lord; I have not said in vain that I would bring this calamity upon them.

Ezekiel 6:10 NKJV

Now let’s continue with Revelation 9 and first define some terms to give us more understanding.

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. And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. 

Revelation 9:1-2 NKJV

The Bottomless Pit

We’re likely familiar with the term bottomless pit, but what exactly is it and who is kept imprisoned there? We read in Jude 1:6, The angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; and also in 2 Peter 2:4, ...God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment. Thus, we know that there is a special place reserved just for fallen angels until the end of the age when God casts them into the Lake of Fire, the final Hell, which burns forever.

Hades or Hell

When the wicked die, where do they go? The term Hades or commonly, Hell, is where people wait for final judgment. You can read the story of the rich man and Lazarus HERE, which enlightens us about this terrible place. So presently, two places of Hell exist–one for fallen angels and the other for sinners–but all of them will be cast together into the Lake of Fire at the White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15).

The Nephilim

A demonic race of mighty men appeared on the earth, known as Nephilim. Genesis 6:1-4 explains their origins as fallen angels or demons who, against God’s natural order, sired children by women (read HERE). Included in its ranks were giants of great renown, including Goliath.

As a result of their sinfulness, God punished these demons by casting them into a special place reserved for them alone: the bottomless pit. They will remain there until the final judgment when they will be cast into the Lake of Fire. However, some of them will be loosed for a specified time, appearing as locusts.

The Fallen Star

The fallen star has been given a key to the bottomless pit, so we know that this is either an angel or a high-ranking demon–perhaps Satan– to whom Jesus has given the key. Note the smoke pouring out of the pit, indicating that it’s an extremely hot place, perhaps from unquenchable fire. The smoke’s volume is so great that both sun and air will be blacked out, hosting clouds of locusts that will spread across the earth.

Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.

Revelation 9:3-6 NKJV

God’s Limitations

These locusts appear to be demons since they come out of the bottomless pit. Unlike real locusts, they are muzzled by God’s strict rules for a duration of five months. They are forbidden to harm grass, trees, or any other green plants on the earth, proving that they are not real locusts. God gives them only one assignment: to sting people who don’t have God’s seal on their foreheads. They can torment but not kill mankind for five months.

So, the 144,000, as well as others who have accepted Christ as Savior during this time, will be safe from this judgment. The torment of their sting must be unimaginable since men will want to die to escape the pain. Although God prohibits escape by death, He again offers escape from the Lake of Fire through repentance and salvation.

A Description of the Locusts

The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle. They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months. And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.

Revelation 9:7-11 NKJV

John uses similes (using like) to compare these demonic forces to familiar analogies. Are they physically real or spiritually invisible? Are they a description of military helicopters? Several theories exist. Regardless, we know that these are vicious hordes of demons released from the bottomless pit whose king, Apollyon, means Destroyer. It’s now obvious why this fifth trumpet judgment is aptly termed a woe.

One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things.

Revelation 9:12 NKJV

Dear Father, thank you for Your plan to bring the wicked to You. May all men repent of their sin and accept Christ as Savior and Lord. In His Name we pray, Amen.

The Fifth Trumpet and First Woe by Karen Jurgens Copyright ©2023 All rights reserved.