What does Revelation 15:1-8 mean to us now?


This passage is about the contrast and importance of God and His judgment and grace. They go together and both are essential. The wicked and those who are in apostasy are deserving of their judgments; they bring it on themselves freely as they ignore and refuse God’s offer of grace. This passage is about worship—pointing us to the One who is in control so those who are His can take hope and comfort in Him. These plagues of judgment are reminiscent of the ones with which God challenged Pharaoh to let His people go. God offered peace and grace, but Pharaoh kept hardening his heart over and over, just as the recipients of the bowls of wrath do. Just as God delivered Israel from oppression in Egypt, He will deliver His faithful. This becomes all about God’s faithfulness and glory, and how His plan will triumph. So, John’s readers, as well as we today, can take hope in the realization that there is no reason we should not trust in His sovereignty and plan (Ex. 7-12; 40:34-38; 1 Kings 8:10-11; Dan. 7:9-10; John 3:17; Eph. 2; Rev. 4-5). 

This passage also starts John’s fourth cycle of visions, this time focusing on the bowls of God’s wrath to those who are evil doers. If you are not evil and manipulative, but are loyal to Christ, you have no worries here (15:1-16:21). These bowls are nothing esoteric or cryptic; they symbolize God’s wrath. The point is, just as God delivered the Israelites from oppression using the plagues against Egypt, so He will deliver those who belong to Him! The other significance of this is that it sets up the world for the Second Coming of Christ (Is. 51:17-22; Jer. 25:15-29; Lam. 4:21; Ezek. 23:31-34; Hab. 2:16; Rev. 14:10; 16:19)! 

These bowls are very similar to the Seven Trumpets and first Four Bowls, but the first judgments affect one-third (1/3) of the areas; these new ones effect all. Thus they result in more stern judgments after a very clear warning and time for repentance! These judgments can be applied as they were written to the Roman Empire as well as for a time yet to come. Remember, Hebrew logic is not “either-or;” rather, it is “both-and!” Thus, these themes were for John’s readers, for us, and for a crisis-tribulation time that is yet to come. The bottom line is not what theories we read in to the passage that tantalize us; rather, it is what God is seeking from us, namely our faith, worship, and faithfulness versus what he is mad at—evil.  You can get a list of that from Romans chap 1. 

This passage testifies to the fact that a hardened heart refuses to learn, obey, or submit. God accepts us; it is we who have trouble accepting Him! Such a mindset will not recognize pride or sin’s folly, nor will it learn from past mistakes. This mindset refuses the things of goodness and God, rather preferring depravity or its own pride and agendas. It can even trick itself that these things are right and good and those who represent the Truth of God are in the wrong. Yes, God still cares and offers Himself to them until the time is up and judgment is poured out. The contrast for the faithful is this; while the wicked refuse to learn or grow, we can take comfort we can be anchored in Christ and be encouraged and then learn from them—learn of the evils and depravity of sin so we can guard ourselves, and do as much as we can to help others get out of it, as our Lord showed us. 

The other aspect we can glean from this passage is that God protects and cares for us. God is right and never acts with spite or in unfair anger. 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. What images could console you in times of stress? How would you describe peace and hope to someone in distress?
  1. How and why does a hardened heart refuse to learn or obey or submit? What can you do to prevent such a mindset from encroaching on you? How does not recognizing pride and sin’s folly or learning from our mistakes fuel sin and problems in our lives?
  1. Who is in control of your spiritual life? What needs to take place for you to take more hope and comfort in Christ?
  1. What can you and your church do to praise Christ—who is glorious and worthy—more passionately and faithfully? How would this help you and the people in your church be more victorious against the evils of the world and the stresses of life? 

 © 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org


The Four Main Views of Revelation 15:1-8


The Preterist view: They see this passage as the beginnings of Judgment, the Jewish war of 70A.D, and the finality of Jerusalem. Thus, it is all about God’s wrath toward apostate Jewish leadership while He delivers His faithful. God abolishes the Old Covenant and sets up the Covenant of Grace under Christ. The celebration is seen as the rejoicing of the faithful for their vindication and/or escape from Jerusalem, and/or how Jesus delivers His people. Others see this as the joy of martyrdom. The corrupt, wicked city of Jerusalem has had its chance, but now it is beyond recovery. 

The Futurist view: They see this passage as anticipation of a new Temple being built to execute God’s new mission to humanity. His mission is climatic judgment. Most in this camp see this not as God’s Temple, but the one in Jerusalem that will be rebuilt. (There is a common misconception in “end times” theory that the temple must be rebuilt before Jesus can come back. This is just not true. The verses used to make this point are taken out of their historical context. The passages refer to the end of the Babylonian captivity and how the Temple was gong to be rebuilt, which had already been fulfilled in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah! Thus, there is confusion between already fulfilled prophecy and not understanding the Old Testament and its connection to unfilled and fulfilled prophecy from historical chronology. The teaching that the sacrificial system must also be reinstated is an assault to the Person and work of Christ. There are no conditions for Christ to come again; He comes when He is ready to come! ) Sea of glass is a picture of heaven and the fire is God’s judgment. There is a big problem for this view as the great victory, when most believe the church was raptured; so, who is victorious? There are many theories; either this refers to the people who come to Christ after the rapture or else it does not refer to the Church but rather to the disembodied spirits of the people killed, which is a contradiction of how God deals with death. Others see this as the song from the Red Sea still being heard or the song of redemption echoing from God’s faithful. This could also be interpreted as a reminder of God’s faithfulness and His ability to redeem, or a last warning before final judgment.           

Passages saying the temple has to be rebuilt that are often taken out of context: Numbers 19:2; Isaiah 14:1-2; Jeremiah 7:2-8; Ezekiel 34; Daniel 3:1-7; 8; 9:24-27; 12:11; Haggai 1:1-11; 2:14, 1 Cor. 6:19; Gal. 4:25 -26; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; 2 Thess. 2:4; 3:7; 1 Peter 2:5; Rev. 11:2-6. The original Temple in Solomon’s time was built in (dates approximate) 950 B.C. and destroyed in 587 B.C. (1 Kings 8:22-61; 2 Kings 24:11-15; 2 Kings 25:7-12). Said passages point to its rebuilding and thus were fulfilled with Ezra’s Temple 515 B.C. (Ezra 5:2). Also, Herod’s Temple, built in 20 B.C. and destroyed in 70 A.D fulfilled Daniel’s “abomination that causes desolation,” and Christ, the Messiah fulfilled “the anointed One” (Matthew, chapters 21-24; Acts 6:12 – 7:60). There is no scriptural evidence for a “tribulation temple” (see Revelation 11 study), although if one is built, (I am surprised it has not been already), it has no bearing on Christ’s timing or His return. 

The Idealist view: They see this passage as the last judgment on humanity and the end of time as we know it. God’s goals and purposes are fulfilled and complete, and humanity’s purpose is at its fruition. Others in this camp see this as individual judgments to one’s own personal life experiences and choices as compared to opportunities, call, and abilities. Fire is seen as God’s righteousness and glass as heaven. The song is that all nations shall worship Christ as Lord. 

The Historicist view: They see this passage as symbolic, meant to give the Church hope and reassurance that God is in control and His purpose will be fulfilled. They also see this passage as God’s assault on the corrupt papacy (Medieval Catholic Popes who persecuted faithful Christian reformers). They see this happening in God’s throne room represented by the Sea of glass, and the fire as His judgment. The great victory indicates the “faithful,” those who remained steadfast during papal persecutions. The seven plagues are seen as the end of secular history and the start of the return of Christ as the events of earthly life come to an end. Others in this camp see this as the French revolution and/or the destruction of Rome.

Exegetical look into Revelation 15:1-8


  • Great and marvelous/wonderful is a celebration song of hope fulfilled and victory (Is. 6:1-4).
  • Last plagues refers to “filled up” and completion.
  • God’s wrath refers to the judgment that is coming and that it will be a reality (Joel 2:11; Mal. 3:2). This is something Christians need not fear as Christ covers our sin for us (Zeph. 1:14-18; Nah. 1:6; Mal. 3:2; Rom. 1:18; 3:9-23; 6:23; Rev.19:15). There is hope and assurance when our trust is in Christ and His righteousness. He is our hope, even when the very foundations of the universe are collapsing around and under us. When our hope is in Christ, nothing can shake us (Luke 12:32-34; 1 Cor. 7:29-31; 2 Thess.1:7-9; Heb. 12:25-29; Rev. 6:16).
  • Sea of glass. This is a representation of worship, as the temple had the “Bronze Sea,” referring to the “basin” in the heavenly temple. In context, this also may refer to how Israel was delivered through the parting of the Red Sea, or the “Sea of Reeds” (Rev. 15:5-6, 8; 16:1, 17). Elsewhere, this image of water and worship is found when the Red Sea (Sea of Reeds) was parted by God, as was the Jordan River (which was actually a greater miracle).These images indicate that all that exists is submissive to God’s supremacy, and He has victory over all that opposes Him. In conjunction, water also means that He supplies us with all we need so we can take comport in Him in times of doubt or stress (Ex. 24:10; Deut. 11:11; 1 Kings 7:23-25; 2 Kings 16:17; 2 Chron. 4:2-6,15, 39; Psalm 11:4; Is. 51:9-11; Jer 27:19; Ezek. 1:22; Rev. 4:6-8; 11:19; 14:15, 17; 15:2). 
  • Mixed with fire refers to God as a consuming fire who delivers the faithful (Deut. 4:24).
  • Been victorious who had conquered indicates that the faithful have a role in God’s judgments to those who persecuted them or have done evil. Perhaps, they will be witnesses and/or their prayers have motivated God. This also means we do not fear the devil when we are in Christ (Rev. 6:9-11; 12:11).
  • Number of his name. This was also a common way to express a warning to us about godlessness or those opposing Christ—a warning to make sure we are not opposing Christ in thought, word, or deed, taking oaths, or making promises that counter Christ’s principles (Rev. 13:11-18).
  • Song of Moses indicates a song that pictures redemption and hope. Moses sang to praise God for His deliverance and his people’s triumph as God led them safely and unharmed from oppression and through danger, and then God “took out” their enemies. This was/is used in Jewish worship on Sabbath evenings to celebrate deliverance. It is also a contrast between being oppressed by evil and the oppression we bring on ourselves by seeking idols and things not of God, and how He seeks to deliver us. God accepts us; it is we who have trouble accepting Him (Ex. 15:1-18; Deut. 31:28-32:43; Psalm 86:9-10; Rev. 5:6).
  • Song of the Lamb was an early church hymn pointing to how Christ obtained deliverance because He arose from the dead and triumphed over His enemies (Psalm 22; Phil. 2:9-11).
  • Great and marvelous are your deeds is another song of praise (Ex. 15:11; Psalm 92:5; 111:2 Rev. 1:8).
  • Just and true means how God is right and never acts with spite or in unfair anger. His judgments are pure and deserving; it would be a farce and immoral for Him not to judge. Evil would not be contained or accountable, and rightfulness and holiness would not mean anything without judgment (Is. 55:6-13; Rev. 16:5-7; 19:2-11).
  • King of the ages/world is a name for God, referring to His universal right to be recognized as first, foremost, and the only worshiped being (Psalm 86:9-10; Is. 45:22-23; Jer 10:10; Zech. 14:9; Mal. 1:11; Phil. 2:9-11; 1 Tim. 1:17).
  • Tabernacle of the Testimony/Sanctuary is an image of the Old Testament Tabernacle tent that meant God’s heavenly dwelling. It refers to the inner sanctum of God’s moist holy of holies that contained the Ark with the two tablets of the Testimony Moses brought from Mount Sinai. This represented God’s home on earth as a “copy” of God’s Throne Room, made for His presence in the inner chamber of Jewish Temples and the Tabernacle that was a tent, used before the Temple was built by Solomon. Now, John sees the real heavenly version in a corporal state to condescend to his and our understanding (Ex. 24:9-11; 25; 25:40; 32:15; 38:21; Deut 10:5; 1 Kings 5-7; 22:19; 2 Chron. 2-4; Is. 6; Ezek. 1; 10:1; Dan. 7:9-10; Matt. 13:38; John 8:42-45; Heb. 8:1-6; 9:1-14; Rev. 3:12; 4:1; 7:15; 11:19; 14:15-17; 15:5-16:1, 16:17; 21:22).
  • Shining linen/pure bright linen…. golden sashes refer to the clothing of priests who represent God and His Holiness through their call and priestly occupation. It also refers to how our Lord creates, redeems, and empowers us (Ex. 28:42; Lev. 16:4; Ezek. 18:4).
  • Four living creatures is a figurative image from Ezekiel and Babylonian descriptions, possibly referring to angels who minister to God, who act as protectors, guardians, and servants, giving their adoration. The point is that “God is Great;” God is Holy, He is universally glorious, and He is greater than any earthly power or king. This may also be an assault on the powers and authority of Babylon and Rome. To read into these images more than what is there misses the point of the passage and muddies the waters of Revelation (Gen. 3:24; Ex. 25:17-22; 1 Kings 7:29; 1 Chron. 12:8; 28:18; Psalm 18:10; Is. 6; Ezek. Chaps 1, 10; Rev. 4:6).
  • Seven golden bowls/vials refer to the incense bowls or chalices used in the Jewish Temple. Here, instead of being used to please God, God uses this image to appease His just wrath (Psalm 75:8; Is. 34:10; 51:17; Jer. 25:15; Mark 15:35; Rev. 5:8; 8:3-5; 14:9-10; 16:6,19).
  • Smoke. In the Old Testament, smoke indicated both God’s presence His anger. This is also, in context, an image of God’s power and glory filling the Temple when it was dedicated (Ex. 19:9-18; 20:18; 40:34-35; Num. 12:5; 1 Kings 8:10-11; Ezek. 10:3-4; 44:4; Psalm 18:8-11; 74:1; Is. 6:4; Ezek. 1:4; )
  • From his power means that our Lord is our Help, and He will never forsake us. From the context of the Song of Moses, this is also a warning to “see if your false gods (apostate, corrupt, weak church) can help you.” (Ezek. 18:4; Psalm 37:7, 20, 34; Matt. 10:28-31)
  • No one could enter the temple. Those who are wicked had their chance; now, they are beyond reclamation.

Revelation 15:1-8



The Seven Plagues

John now gets a heavenly perspective of God’s wrath being prepared to be poured out on a wicked world. As seven angels with seven plagues get ready for God to say “go,” they are the last ones unleashed because this concludes God’s wrath. Now, in the midst of the underpinnings for extreme judgment, John is consoled with images depicting peace and hope, a sea of glass, and the people who have been victorious against both the evils of the world and the manipulations of the beast. These victors of faith praise God for His holiness; they have seen His plan revealed and that His plan has prevailed. God is truly beyond marvelous; His previsions and power—His best and true ways—were received. Then, they continue to praise Him who is glorious and worthy; they see their struggles as worth it beyond measure. 

            The saints celebrate their victory and vindication! As God’s heavenly Temple is opened and revealed, from it come the seven angels dressed in glory and splendor, along with the four living creatures who gave the angels the seven bowls filled with God’s wrath. The Temple is filled with God’s presence, power, and glory, and thus, no one could enter it until the bowls have been poured out and His judgment completed. 

This passage is about the contrast and importance of God and His judgment and grace. They go together and both are essential. The wicked and those who are in apostasy are deserving of their judgments; they bring it on themselves freely as they ignore and refuse God’s offer of grace. This passage is about worship—pointing us to the One who is in control so those who are His can take hope and comfort in Him. These plagues of judgment are reminiscent of the ones with which God challenged Pharaoh to let His people go. God offered peace and grace, but Pharaoh kept hardening his heart over and over, just as the recipients of the bowls of wrath do. Just as God delivered Israel from oppression in Egypt, He will deliver His faithful. This becomes all about God’s faithfulness and glory, and how His plan will triumph. So, John’s readers, as well as we today, can take hope in the realization that there is no reason we should not trust in His sovereignty and plan (Ex. 7-12; 40:34-38; 1 Kings 8:10-11; Dan. 7:9-10; John 3:17; Eph. 2; Rev. 4-5). 

This passage also starts John’s fourth cycle of visions, this time focusing on the bowls of God’s wrath to those who are evil doers. If you are not evil and manipulative, but are loyal to Christ, you have no worries here (15:1-16:21). These bowls are nothing esoteric or cryptic; they symbolize God’s wrath. The point is, just as God delivered the Israelites from oppression using the plagues against Egypt, so He will deliver those who belong to Him! The other significance of this is that it sets up the world for the Second Coming of Christ (Is. 51:17-22; Jer. 25:15-29; Lam. 4:21; Ezek. 23:31-34; Hab. 2:16; Rev. 14:10; 16:19)! 

  1. How would you symbolize God’s wrath? How do you like to celebrate victory? How do you like to get vindication?

What does Revelation 9: 1-11 mean to us now?


            The image here is of the armies of hell that will come in some way, shape, or form, by invading armies, pestilence, or supernatural activities. Their mission is to invoke fear; they seek souls to themselves, souls who do not desire God, that would rather die and spend their eternity in hell with their cohorts in the realm of demons. This is not a pretty picture, but a warning that we must take our lives and our duty to Know Him and make Christ known in our lives seriously. Moreover, in context, it is the warning to take on our duty to run His Church His way, and point others to His Way. 

Do you know how powerful God is? What about in your life? This passage is not just about doom and gloom, it is about getting our priorities straight as is the Joel passage John borrows it from. It is His power and His love to which we bow. The bottom line is, God calls us to repent! Have you? Really, in every aspect of your innermost thoughts and ways? There is nothing our Lord Jesus Christ does not know, nothing that is inaccessible to Him, including the secrets in the recesses of our innermost personal being (1 Sam. 16:7; Job 26:6; Psalm 139:8; Prov. 15:11). Thus, we must allow His conviction and our accountably to others to examine who we are and who we ought to be. If we are in a self-indulgent life-style, with the desire to live and do as we please, we are headed for trouble. We may be Christians, sealed by His grace, but do we serve Him as we “run” our personal lives and His Church? God wants us to “hear this word,” not bow to our self-indulgent mindsets, so we can have our personal aspirations of control in surrender to Him, allowing His Lordship to be manifested in all parts of our lives (Isa. 28:7-8; Am. 4:1). 

Real repentance will entail full, genuine confession, restitution, and the will to turn to Christ, not just as Savior, but also as Lord. 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. Have you undergone a great change, a complete turn, that has changed your heart and mind? Perhaps from being a non-Christian to a Christian? What about gong from being a weak, unfaithful, or worldly Christian to a mature and faithful Christian?
  1. What needs to take place so that you experience deeper results from the acknowledgment of what Christ has done in you? What can you do to make the commitment and resolve to constantly, and with diligence, examine your actions and attitudes and allow the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the good advice and counsel of others make you a better follower of Christ?
  1. What can you and your church do to be better prepared, with attitude and mindset, in regarding God as a God of grace and of judgment? What can be done to better communicate this to your congregation?
  1. Do you truly have a real, heartfelt interest in knowing and serving Christ as Lord? If not, what is in the way? What needs to happen for you to grow in this much needed area in your life?

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org


The Four Main Views of Revelation 9: 1-11


The Preterist view: They see this passage as the days of the Roman conquest and destruction of Jerusalem and then the resulting spread of death and disease as the outcome. The “star” represents the leaders of this and the unbelief and apostasy of the Jews that caused it. “Five months” represents the May to September siege of Jerusalem. The “locusts” are seen as demons being let loose or being influencers of the siege, and the kink is Satan himself as the influencer. “Seek death” is seen as the application of Luke 23:27-30 and the desire to die during the Roman’s heinous activities. Women’s “long hair” is seen as transvestitism, brothels, or the women being violated. And, Apollyon is seen as the Roman Emperor who gave charge to the siege. 

The Futurist view: They see this passage as a literal and supernatural plague by demons that God allows Satan to set loose just before Christ’s Second Coming. The “star” represents the “third trumpet” of Revelation 8:10. Most in this camp say this is a future Pope, and his corruption of adding apostasy to the Church. Others see this as the rise of cult groups since the 1900s, and still others see it as a comet or as Satan himself. The “Abyss” is seen as hell or another house for demons. The “locusts” represent demons or people who are possessed by them, and their effects on people during the tribulation. “Seek death” is seen as people unable to exercise their will because of demonic activity. Others see this as the effects of a foreign invasion; some have said it is helicopters, and “torment” is nerve gas. In the 80s, it was seen as Russia; now it is terrorists. What will it be next? (My money is on poodles!) The “deceptions” of the locusts are taken literally, as many believe they are helicopters or some military machine. Very probable perhaps; however this is not that the text tells us. 

The Idealist view: They see this passage as God’s judgment by the effects of nature that are distressing and relentless in damage, while we are powerless to stop it. Some see this as the internal decay of Rome that led to its downfall, or the decay of correct doctrine. The “star” represents Satan and the “locusts” represent demonic influences on the world and the Church. The “smoke” is the influence of evil clouding people’s minds, causing them to forsake righteousness. The “torment” is the loss of joy and peace as a result.  “Seek death” is seen as an extra punishment or more intense torment, as there is no relief. 

The Historicist view: They see this passage as the Islamic attacks of the seventh and eighth centuries, which came like plagues and locusts, killing and destroying countless people at their pleasure. The “star” represents a symbol for a prince who has been corrupted by Muslims, or is Mohammed, or perhaps Boniface, the third Bishop of Rome who deceived the Church and caused widespread spiritual damage. The “locusts” represent the Saracens led by Mohammed who are the now Muslim Arab’s attack against Eastern Rome and its consequential terrors from 612 to 763 A.D. The Arabs came like locusts and killed like a plague. Mohammed gave the command not to tear down fruit producing trees, good crops, or to destroy goods his people could use, while other invaders ordered the “slash and burn” of it all. Those who do not have “the seal” are the corrupt church officials who either helped the invaders or sympathized with them. “Five months” represents the time of Mohammed and his “Mohammedan” reign, which was 150 years that amounts to ten times 5 months. The Catholics see the “star” as Martin Luther and the “locusts” as the Reformation. The “crowns” are seen as Islamic turbans and “long hair” as the hair of the Muslim invaders similar to that of modern Sikhs. “Breastplates of iron” is seen as the armor of the invaders, and the “stings of the tails” is seen as their fighting style of slashing rearward.


Exegetical look into Revelation 9: 7-11


This is not just about God’s judgment, but also another picture of His grace, as, again, most (two-thirds) are spared. Do not feel sorry for these people who are being tortured, for they are absolutely evil. These people would rather commit suicide and spend eternity in Hell rather than repent. They desperately want to continue their sins of immorality, thievery, murder, occult practices, and debauchery rather than seek what is good and uplifting.

  • Horses prepared for battle. Refers to invasions; many horses, from a distance, look like a plague of locusts (Jer. 51:14-27; Joel 2:4).
  • Crowns of gold. Refers to the military exploits and accomplishments which we call “medals” today.
  • Human faces. Refers to nightmares and the heinous images on ancient Mediterranean zodiacs. This may also refer to their cleverness and cunning. We may expect force while they use tricks to deceive people.
  • Women’s hair. Refers to the long hair that, in these times, the Barbarians and the Parthian invaders had. This may also refer to the long antennae of a locust. What is evil and destructive can also be appealing to some. The warning here is to be careful what you wish for.
  • Lions’ teeth. Refers to the ferocity, brutality, and merciless nature of a lion, which would give emphasis to the destructive nature of these events (Joel 1:6).
  • Breastplates of iron. This was the armor of a Roman solder, a coat of “mail” that was made of pieces of metal braided over one another on top of leather that protected their torso. Perhaps, it refers to the demonic or supernatural power they have and that from a human perspective, they are unstoppable (unless people repent). It is interesting to note that many kinds of locusts have an exoskeleton resembling scaled armor.
  • Thundering of many horsesnoise of the chariots. Refers to the utter fear and intensity of the torment, as the family’s and clan’s way of life is destroyed when an invading army or locusts come; or, at the very least, is never the same again (Jer. 8:16; Joel 2:5).
  • Tails and stings like scorpions. The scorpion’s weapon is in its tail; in ancient terms, this meant “archers” who shoot arrows that people greatly feared and that were unstoppable. The Parthian archers wiped out many legions of Roman solders.
  • Abaddon/Apollyon means “destruction” and referred to their dwelling at the lowest depths of the earth where the territory of the dead lay. This is also the Greek root for the god Apollo, whose representation is a locust. This is the name given to the king of the locust’s plague, represented by this angel. It means “Destroyer” and is typically given as a name and description of Satan. It is his role to oversee destruction, yet he and his cohorts are limited to what they can do. This may refer to Satan himself or one of his lieutenants. This was also one of the code words used for the emperor, Nero, and then again for the emperor Domitian by the Early Church. Most of the various views see this as Satan (Ex. 12:12; Num. 33:4; Job 26:6; 28:22; 31:12; 28:22; 31:12; Psalm 88:11; Prov. 15:11; 26:6; 27:20; Rev. 2:18).


Exegetical look into Revelation 9: 1-6

  • The fifth angel. He sets off a plague of locusts, of devastation, perhaps commanded by demonic forces. This can be taken literally, as a plague of locusts can cause severe devastation. Locusts, in ancient times and in many parts of the world today, mean starvation for people if they come in sufficient numbers (Rev. 13:1-10). Ancient Jewish literature speaks of imprisoned, evil angels waiting their chance to unleash their revenge, inflicting chaos and mayhem.
  • A star. Ancient cultures saw stars as divinities or angels; thus, this could refer to a mighty angel. This is the “star” of Rev. 8:10, referring to a cosmic disturbance, an Angel or servant, or an instrument of God (Rev. 20:1).
  • Abyss/bottomless pit means “very deep” (the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament word for bottomless). Jewish tradition saw this as a literal, subterranean place, used for the imprisonment of evil demons and Satan, which was actually on the earth. Angels were assigned to guard it and were given keys to it. Now, with our better understanding of science and biblical interpretation, most scholars see this as an extra dimension or residence, the exact locale we cannot fathom. This is where Dante got his “Inferno” and where we get our cultural view of hell (1 Enoch). John is using this vibrant imagery not to be a literal place we can see, but rather to show that hell, as well as demons, are real. (Gen. 1:2; 7:11; Prov. 8:28; Luke 8:31; Rev. 20:1).
  • Smoke rose. John uses this imagery to make his point more powerfully.
  • The sun and sky were darkened. This is a reference to a significant astronomical or supernatural event in the form of Old Testament judgment language (Psalm 18:6-19; Isa. 13:10; 24:23; 34:4; Jer. 4:20-28; Ezek. 32:7-8; Joel 3:14; Zech. 14:6; Matt. 24:29-51). The question is not if or when, as many of us obsess over. Rather, it shows He will come and we had better be prepared with our attitude and mindsets! This is a most frightening prediction (Ex. 9:21-23)! 
  • Locusts refer to a terrible invasion of some sort by demons, peoples, nature, or all of the above; this is a metaphor for the elements and behavior of nature that God controls and directs (Psalm 148:1-12; Zech. 6:5). It is a prophesy from Joel, too, of the desolation that will come with the “day of the Lord.” Perhaps it is literal insects, which have terrorized farmers of all times; they eat everything and leave nothing in the wake of their desolation. They do not bother people directly, but their effect certainly does. This would strike terror to John’s readers (who lived in an agrarian society) more profoundly than an invading army of men, as the threat of a locust “invasion” was always at hand. This is reminiscent of the eighth plague in Egypt and Joel’s prediction. Locusts sometimes move in vast swarms and can easily strip away all the crops. It is reported that from 1866 to 1869, in the country of Algiers on the Mediterranean Sea, over 200,000 people died from the result of famine from a locust plague. More recently, in June of 1993, locusts were devouring the harvests of Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, and Djibouti. (Exodus 10:1-20; Joel 1:2-2:27).
  • Were given power. God is still in control, and sets limits upon them.
  • Scorpions refer to a spider-like insect with a poisonous barb in its tail. This is a symbol of a sometimes-used instrument of God’s judgment. Its sting can severely injure or kill a large man (1 Kings 12:11; 2 Chron. 10:14).
  • They were told not to harm the grass. A statement of comfort and of God’s grace. Even in the greatest sufferings, it is not as bad as it can or should be.
  • Did not have the seal of God. Refers to those who are immoral and depraved and who refuse to accept what Christ has done or to lead honest and proper lives. Wickedness caused by such people is reciprocal, as it is self-defeating, not only tormenting others, but harming themselves too. These were the people in the locust’s targets. Sometimes, God allows those who are wicked to suffer in this life, as we would like to see, but their real judgment is still to come. We can take comfort as they only attack those who are wicked and who refuse God’s grace (Rev. 20:11-15).
  • Torture. Do not worry; this does not concern the “servants of God,” just as God’s protection of the Israelites from His judgment upon Egypt (Ex. 8:22; 9:4, 26; 10:23; 11:7; Rev. 7:3).
  • Five months. Refers to limiting; whatever happens, it will not last long. Locusts eat their fill in a few days and then move on. It is interesting to note that the life cycle of a typical locust is about five months.
  • Sting of a scorpion. Referred to the most intense pain an ancient person could conceive of.
  • Men will seek death. Denotes that the sufferings they receive will cause them to seek death as relief (Jer. 8:3; Hosea 10:8; Luke 23:30).
  • Death will elude them. God will not allow relief to those who refuse Him. Their pain cannot be squelched, and it is further complicated in that they can do nothing about it, although they would be able to do by receiving Christ’s free offer (Phil. 1:23-24).


Revelation 9:1-11


The Fifth Trumpet  

General idea: The Fifth Angel now blows his trumpet, and sets in motion more judgment as a star falls from the sky, strikes the earth, and causes a great chasm to be formed. It is a bottomless pit and the angel holds the key to this foreboding shaft that leads to the furnace of judgment where no sunlight comes¾only darkness and smoke. This shaft is so powerful that when it is opened, the smoke from it darkens the sky, and the entirety of the earth sees it. Suddenly, locusts come from the furnace and descend upon the peoples of earth with devastation and judgment. They have been given power to strike, yet are directed not to harm too much, sparing the vegetation and most of the peoples. They seek out the peoples whose heart and will do not seek Christ and who refuse to accept His forgiveness and grace. These are the evil peoples who live to and for themselves and evoke evil and sufferings upon others. It is their judgment and they are deserving of it. But, God’s ever-abounding grace and love spare most of these too. So, they are tortured, while offerings of grace are offered, but not taken. They seek anything, even death, but not the love and grace of our Lord. There are malevolent and immoral, and do not care. 

The eagle, the bird of prey, and its messages of woes from previous verses are now accomplished, as “Apollyon” led them. This is the Destroyer, who is the angel of the Abyss (which is the place of absolute devastation, death, desolation, and destruction), perhaps Satan himself. His mission is to supervise the devastation of his minions, the locusts, as they swarm over the earth. 

 In this passage, the Fifth Trumpet is blown and the Plague of Locusts is released. These locusts are a horrific army armed for battle; they are foreboding and strike terror upon the people, merely by their presence. The “bottomless pit” lets loose demonic creatures on the rampage who are literally “hell bent” to kill, but only allowed to torture. Their stay and their devastation are monitored and controlled, so they will inflict only the least amount of harm, allowing for God’s redemptive work to continue, even though it has been ignored. This passage is reminiscent of Joel and the plagues of Egypt (Ex. 10:13-15; Joel, chapters 2-3).

What does Revelation 8: 1-13 mean to us now?


These judgments seem to come against the Roman Empire, as the word meanings and Jewish metaphors suggest those found in Jesus’ “Olivet Discourse” in Matthew 24, and thus may have already occurred. However, that does not mean the final accumulation and sentence of God’s judgment has occurred; we are still waiting for that. These themes seem to repeat themselves throughout the history of the Church and society. However, a final buildup and its fruition still is to occur before Jesus comes back. 

These seven angels stand before God and His Throne. They have His approval and empowerment to carry out His plan. You are in His plan! Remember, as faithful Christians who are sealed, we have His approval. We may still face these persecutions and tribulations, but the difference is we have His love that turns a sentence of judgment and death into martyrdom for His glory. This passage attests to the fact that we must be dependant on God, and not bow to lethargy in our spiritual formation. This is the mark of a mature Christian. This is not a time to be lazy, to rationalize our situation, seek sympathy from others, or think He does not care, that we are useless. When we face darkness in our lives, it is a time to shape up and seek Christ as Lord.  We must be discerning, courageous, hopeful, and proactive in our faith. Be obedient and trusting, regardless of your situation, and remember you are His special child whom He has sealed. Keep in mind that God wants to rescue His people from those who are hostile to Him, and who want to oppress, control, or persecute us. 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. When these events come to pass (if they have not already), what do you think they will look like? How will these events send shock and awe to the average person?
  1. Why does it seem that a characteristic of God’s judgment is He does not do it all at once, rather He is slow and uses order? Do you think that He is slow to give time for His grace to work and people to seek forgiveness, even when they do not seek Him?
  1. God is patient, but He is ready at any time to unleash these sentences. How do you feel about this? Are you ready?
  1. Do you think this passage is literal? If so how will this be played out? If you think this is symbolic, how do you think it will play out? How do people’s idolatrous motivations and misguided followings influence His judgment?
  1. What do you need to do to take seriously that God is in control? Because of His grace, He only allows a fraction of His judgments. How can you have more confidence in Christ to deliver you out of your tough situations?

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org