Revelation 9:1-12

Revelation 9:1-12

HELL ON EARTH, PART 1

In this lesson we are introduced to the current residents of hell.

OUTLINE

Do you believe that hell is a literal place of painful and permanent suffering? If so, you are one of a small percentage of people who do. Even many Christians are not convinced of the reality of hell. John's description of those who live there now just might convince the doubters.

I. The Unnamed Personality

II. The Unlocked Pit

   A. The Place Dreaded by the Demons

   B. The Place Where Angels Are Retained

   C. The Place Where Jesus Christ Preached

   D. The Place Ultimately Controlled by Jesus Christ

III. The Unleashed Power of the Pit

   A. The Description of the Demons From the Pit

   B. The Damage of the Demons From the Pit

IV. The Unscrupulous Prince

 

OVERVIEW

   It's understandable, but to our detriment that no one likes to talk about hell today in biblical terms. That's understandable for the world-but not for the Church. Unfortunately, many pastors and teachers today skip over references to hell in the Bible and move on to something that will tickle the ears of their listeners.

   Most modern religious groups have redefined hell to be a state of mind, or even the life we create for ourselves while on this earth. Is that surprising? Because the Bible presents hell as a literal place that is very unpleasant-a place designed to punish those who lived in rebellion against God while on earth-people avoid it. They even write it out of their theology. Why run the risk of offending people when there are so many other topics to choose from for sermons and messages? The reason is that it's in the Bible, it is therefore true, and therefore we are obligated to teach on it. No one can make something not true simply by denying it.

   Chapter 9 of Revelation gives us a glimpse into the horrors of hell. This brief encounter ought to be enough to unsettle anyone's conviction that hell is nothing to be concerned about. Hell on earth during the Great Tribulation is bad, but at least it only lasts a few years. Hell itself is worse, not in the least because it never ends.

   By way of review, we are at this point working through the last of the seven seals which secured the title deed to planet earth given by God the Father to Jesus Christ. In the seventh seal are incorporated the seven trumpet judgments, in the seventh of which are the seven bowl judgments. So within the seventh seal itself are fourteen more incremental judgments-seven trumpets and seven bowls. In our last lesson we studied the first four trumpet judgments, and in this lesson we study the fifth (Revelation 9:1-12). At the end of Revelation 8, at the conclusion of the fourth trumpet an eagle announces, "Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth .... " We would think the inhabitants of earth are suffering woe already based on the previous judgments-but it only gets worse with the fifth trumpet.

   Think of the fifth trumpet this way-as if every prison in the world threw open its doors and set free the vilest offenders known to man. That's what the fifth trumpet releases-only the doors are the doors to hell and the offenders are demonic instead of human.

THE UNNAMED PERSONALITY

We have read about stars falling to earth in earlier parts of Revelation, but the one described in 9:1 is different-it has a human personality. The star is referred to as "him" and "he" in verses 1-2. We have seen stars refer to people earlier in Revelation (1:16,20), so this is not unusual.

   This unnamed personality who falls to earth in the fifth trumpet judgment is undoubtedly Satan himself. He is allowed by God to open the doors to the "bottomless pit" (9:2) so that the demons of hell can go out upon

planet earth in force. A more illustrative reading of the perfect tense of the Greek verb in verse on~ would be, "I saw a star which had already fallen to earth." The star, the angel that has already fallen from heaven to earth, is

none other than Lucifer: "How you have fallen from heaven, 0 Lucifer ... " (Isaiah 14:12,15). Another reference to Satan's fall is Jesus' comment that He "saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven" (Luke 10:18). And in Revelation 12:7-9 we have an important passage about the dragon (Satan) being cast out of heaven. It is possible that Revelation 12 is actually an expansion of what is mentioned in 9:1. This would not be unusual in the structure of Revelation at all since we know there are parenthetical chapters spaced throughout the book (specifically, between the sixth and seventh seals, trumpets, and bowls). So it is possible that chapter 12 is a commentary on Satan falling from heaven which is mentioned in its chronological place in 9:1.

THE UNLOCKED PIT

   Satan is given permission to open the "bottomless pit" (verse 2). When he does, the sky is darkened by the smoke that pours forth from it-smoke that conceals the reality of what is actually coming forth.

The Place Dreaded by the Demons

   If demons don't even want to go into the bottomless pit of hell, how bad must it be? When Jesus encountered demons in the man who lived in the land of the Gadarenes (Luke 8), the demons begged Him not to send them to the pit (Luke 8:31). They wanted to remain free to roam; they didn't want to be sent into the abyss where they

would be confined. There are many angels (demons) that are not free, that are confined to the abyss at the present time. So Jesus sent them into a nearby herd of pigs which the demons drove into the sea.

The Place Where Angels Are Retained

   In Jude 6 we learn about the angels who are confined in the abyss, the bottomless pit, at the present time: "And 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." So angels who rebelled against God (heaven being

their "proper domain") have been assigned to the abyss until their judgment and permanent casting into the" everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41).

The Place Where Jesus Christ Preached

   The abyss is the place Jesus Christ preached between His death and resurrection. He went there to proclaim victory over death to the fallen angels. First Peter 3:18-19 describes this post-Calvary visit of Christ to the "spirits in prison." He didn't preach the Gospel to them. Rather, He went to announce that He was going to be victorious over death. They had hoped that the cross was the end of Christ, that their leader Satan had succeeded in putting to death the Redeemer of mankind. But His message to them was that He had

won and they had lost.

The Place Ultimately Controlled by Jesus Christ

   The "key to the bottomless pit" (9:1) was given to Satan. That means he did not have control over or access to the abyss. Because Jesus has the keys of "Hades and of Death" (Revelation 1:18), the keys are His to give as He will. And as part of the judgment God is bringing on the earth, He gives Satan the keys so as to unleash demonic power in the last part of the Great Tribulation.

   It is extremely important to remember in all of our understanding about the world as we know it that God is in control. Satan, demons, and evil are on a leash which ultimately is held by the hand of God. If He did not restrain the powers of evil in our world, the human race would have self-destructed millennia ago. Because the last years of the Great Tribulation is a period of intense judgment on the human race, these evil forces are let loose-God extends the leash further than it has ever been extended before.

The Unleased Power of the Pit

   The smoke arising from the pit has two-fold importance. First Jesus speaks of hell as a place where the fires never go out (Mark 9:48; Luke 3:17). Second, the demons are pictured as locusts coming up out of the pit, which I understand can appear as a huge cloud of smoke when they swarm by the millions. So there is literal as well as figurative meaning. We know these aren't real locusts because they do not harm the vegetation (9:4), they have a king (9:11; real locusts have no king; Proverbs 30:27), and God promised never to

release swarms of locusts in judgment again after the locust swarms in Egypt (Exodus 10:14). The use of locusts, as an image of demons swarming over the earth is an effort to paint a picture of something with which we are very unfamiliar.

The Description of the Demons From the Pit

The locusts John saw had a number of very unusual characteristics representing the lion, the horse, the scorpion, the man, and the locust.

1. They Are Imperial Creatures

Their shape was like "horses prepared for battle" (9:7). While some cultures use the word for horse to describe the appearance of the locust, John is not focusing on how they look. He is talking about the strength and imperial nature of the locusts. We have already discussed the role of strength and courage of the horse in ancient culture as a creature charging fearlessly into battle. The demons are coming out prepared for battle.

2. They Are Invulnerable Creatures

They had golden-like crowns on their heads (9:7), the stephanos of the victor. They are pictured as going forth with the intent to win in battle.

3. They Are Intelligent Creatures

Their faces, "like the faces of men," speak of their intelligence. They are not dumb insects going out for battle; they are highly organized and intelligent forces of evil.

4. They Are Intriguing Creatures

The locusts' hair is said to be like women's hair, which speaks of their seductiveness. Women's hair in the ancient world was a tool of seduction, and just as some women employed their beauty to get what they wanted, so the locusts will have seductive skills in accomplishing their goals.

5. They Are Inhuman Creatures

Their lion-like teeth (9:8) speak of their power, their ability to rip and destroy their prey.

6. They Are Indestructible Creatures

Their armor was like iron (9:9) meaning they were indestructible. Demons are only vulnerable to the Name and power of Christ.

7. They Are Impressive Creatures

This is a powerful, final description John gives. Cooped up for thousands and thousands of years, when the demons burst forth from the pit their wings sound like horses and chariots running into battle (9:9). One description I read compared the sound of a swarm of locusts to that of pouring rain.

The Damage of the Demons From the Pit

What are the characteristics of the attack of these demons on the population of planet earth near the end of the Great Tribulation?

1.Painful

   The damage inflicted by the demons over the earth is like the sting of a scorpion, among the most painful experiences known to man (9:10). The pain inflicted on mankind by the demons will be excruciating.

2. Protracted

   Their power to inflict painful suffering on mankind will last five months (9:5, 10). Imagine an extended scorpion sting, the pain of which persisted and persisted. The agony of living in a world overrun by demons will seem unending— though its duration is five months. Their power was not to kill but to torment. Many who have experienced excruciating pain have said that in the midst of it, they would rather have died. This pain will be that bad.

3. Personal

   Their attack is upon those who are not the elect of God (9:4). The 144,000 Jewish evangelists are excluded, as are those Jews and Gentiles they have won to Christ. Revelation 22:4 indicates that in the heavenly city those who are the Lord's will have His Name on their foreheads. These are the ones who are exempt from the attack of the demons.

4. Perpetual

   Revelation 9:6 says men will "seek death and will not find it desire to die, and death will flee from them." Many will desire in that day to use death as an escape from the torment of the demons, but will be unable to succeed. While the demons themselves are limited to five months of torment, the pain will go on beyond that.

THE UNSCRUPULOUS PRINCE

   The ruler of the demons is Abaddon (Hebrew), or Apollyon (Greek). This is the devil, the ruler of all fallen angels.

   Everything we have studied in these lessons are warnings to those who read them. The images of hell are supposed to warn us about a real place called hell—and alert us to take steps not to find ourselves there. Hell is a place of fire and smoke populated by creatures whose only purpose is the infliction of pain and suffering.

   There is only one way to avoid the pain of hell. Embrace the One who announced to hell that He had defeated death so you might live forever with Him.