Revelation 9

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs.

Revelation 9

The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. 2 When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. 3 And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. 4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 They were not allowed to kill them but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes. 6 During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.

7 The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. 8 Their hair was like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. 9 They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. 10 They had tails with stings, like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. 11 They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek is Apollyon (that is, Destroyer).

12 The first woe is past; two other woes are yet to come.

13 The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the four horns of the golden altar that is before God. 14 It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’ 15 And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. 16 The number of the mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand. I heard their number.

17 The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulphur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulphur. 18 A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulphur that came out of their mouths. 19 The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.

20 The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshipping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood – idols that cannot see or hear or walk. 21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.


When I was younger I went to sleep over and watched The Mummy (1999). I was a little young for it at the time, and after watching it, some of the images became seared into the back of my mind when I went to bed each night. There was the particular image of the masses of flesh-eating scarabs that pour out of dark places looking for people to devour from the inside out. This chapter is like all my worst nightmares combined into one.

At the sound of the fifth trumpet, something hellish is released. John sees a black abyss where all sorts of awfulness emerge causing chaos and destruction on the earth. I once heard someone say with absolute conviction and sincerity that the image of the locusts emerging from smoke in this chapter was prophetic for the helicopters in the Vietnam war. Let’s remember to read symbols as symbols. In the gospels, Jesus speaks about how in every human all kinds of wickedness - sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, envy, slander, pride and stupidity come bubbling out of the depths of the human heart (Mark 7). That is the black hole inside all of us. Every human is made in the image of God and intended to reflect that same God, and yet our hearts have gone another way. John sees this image played out where the world has a black hole inside it. God’s creation has become corrupted too, and this issue of the human heart has been exacerbated to a cosmic level.

The story of the gospels is that God has entered the world he loved in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus came on a mission to deal with this black hole inside us where all sorts of nastiness emerge. At the cross, the power of our sin is broken forever. At the cross, God’s love wins. Mercy triumphs over judgement. He removes the penalty of our sin. He offers forgiveness for every occasion we’ve made a mess of things. He calls us to daily turn from this way of life. He empowers us to stand firm against the power of sin. And we begin to receive his healing that will one day be complete when we are free from the presence of sin.

Jesus, I’m sorry that I have made a mess of some things. I know I have hurt myself, others and you in the process. I am sorry for the pain this has caused. Thank you that you stood in my place at the cross. Thank you that you died for me. Thank you that your offer of forgiveness. Thank you for making it possible to have a relationship with you. Please fill me again with your life. Create in me a clean heart. I long for the day when I’ll enter your heavenly kingdom and know freedom from the darkness within. Amen.

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