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scorpion locusts




Revelation 9:1-6


Revelation 9:1 - 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.

Recall from Revelation 8:13, an angel announces the fifth, sixth, and seventh Trumpet judgments as three "woes." In the Old Testament, the prophets often used the word "woe" while they were prophesying against someone or something, showing grief, affliction, anguish, deep distress, and lamentation over coming judgment. The last three Trumpet judgments increase in severity compared to the previous judgments, and will certainly bring more lamentations, mourning, and woe than ever seen before on the earth.

When the fifth angel sounds, John sees a "star fallen from heaven to the earth." This is clearly not a physical star, but a spiritual being, as he receives a key. Recall from Revelation 1:20, "stars" can refer to angels in Scripture, both holy and fallen:

Job 38:4, 7 - "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth.... When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"
Daniel 8:9-11 - And out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great.... And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them. He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host....
Amos 5:26 - You also carried Sikkuth your king and Chiun, your idols, the star of your gods, which you made for yourselves.

John tells us that the star is "fallen." The form of the Greek word used indicates the angel wasn't falling at that time, but was already fallen. Some believe that this is the same angel that later binds Satan the dragon and locks him in the bottomless pit with the same key given here in this chapter:

Revelation 20:1-3 - Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.

However, the angel that binds Satan is not described by John as "fallen," but as "coming down from Heaven" as a present action using a different Greek word. Scripture describes Satan (aka Lucifer) as "falling" or "fallen" from Heaven in the following two passages:

Luke 10:17-20 - Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven."
Isaiah 14:12-15 - "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.' Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit."

While Satan is "fallen" in the sense he has sinned against God, he still maintains access to the Lord's presence in Heaven:

Job 1:6-12 - Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. And the LORD said to Satan, "From where do you come?" So Satan answered the LORD and said, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it." Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?" So Satan answered the LORD and said, "Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!" And the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person." So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.
Job 2:1-5 - Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the LORD. And the LORD said to Satan, "From where do you come?" Satan answered the LORD and said, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it." Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause." So Satan answered the LORD and said, "Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!"
Zechariah 3:1-2 - Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?"

Fortunately, Jesus is the advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1) because Satan is the adversary of believers (1 Timothy 5:14-15), accusing them before the Lord in Heaven still today:

Revelation 12:10 - Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.

Satan will be permanently cast down out of Heaven near the middle of the Tribulation, after the "abomination of desolation," when the Jewish remnant flees to the mountains in the wilderness:

Revelation 12:6-9 - Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

The fifth Trumpet judgment comes near the end of the second half of the Tribulation, which fits with Satan being the "fallen star" who unlocks the bottomless pit, as he is cast out of Heaven near the middle of the Tribulation, before the tormenting locusts are released from the abyss a few years later, as shown below:

fallen star unlocks abyss order of events

Nowhere in Revelation do we see the "fallen star" with the key to the abyss ascending back into Heaven to descend again later. The fact that the star in this chapter is "fallen" from Heaven as a past action, and the angel in Revelation 20:1 descends from Heaven as a presently occurring action, supports that these are two different angelic creatures at two different times. In addition, when Satan is bound after the Tribulation all the fallen host will also be imprisoned, which means the angel that binds Satan is a holy angel that is not fallen, or he would be bound at that time too:

Isaiah 24:21-22 - It shall come to pass in that day that the LORD will punish on high the host of exalted ones, and on the earth the kings of the earth. They will be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and will be shut up in the prison; after many days they will be punished.

If the "star" that opens the bottomless pit and the angel that binds Satan and throws him into the bottomless pit are two different spirit beings, then at some point the angel that comes down from Heaven to bind Satan after the Tribulation receives the key to the bottomless pit. Just because we do not see an exchange of the key between spiritual entities in Scripture does not mean that they are the same character. The one with the authority to delegate power over the key is Jesus, as discussed in Revelation 1:18; He gives the key to whom He chooses and when He chooses.

The key to the bottomless pit is one of several keys the Lord has sovereignty over:

Revelation 1:18 - I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.
Matthew 16:18-19 - And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
Revelation 3:7 - "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, 'These things says He who is holy, He who is true, "He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens..."

The key to the bottomless pit is one of the keys to Hades. The bottomless pit is literally: the "pit of the abyss." This pit is in the inner part of the earth:

Ezekiel 26:19 - "For thus says the Lord GOD: 'When I make you a desolate city, like cities that are not inhabited, when I bring the deep upon you, and great waters cover you, then I will bring you down with those who descend into the Pit, to the people of old, and I will make you dwell in the lowest part of the earth, in places desolate from antiquity, with those who go down to the Pit, so that you may never be inhabited; and I shall establish glory in the land of the living.'"
Ezekiel 32:18, 24 - Son of man, wail over the multitude of Egypt, and cast them down to the depths of the earth, her and the daughters of the famous nations, with those who go down to the Pit... There is Elam and all her multitude, all around her grave, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who have gone down uncircumcised to the lower parts of the earth, who caused their terror in the land of the living; now they bear their shame with those who go down to the Pit.

The bottomless pit is found in the lowest parts of "Hades," which is the Greek word for the holding place of souls inside the earth. "Hades" is translated as "Sheol" in Hebrew and "Hell" in many English translations. Sometimes Hades or Sheol is called "the pit," which includes the "bottomless pit" or the abyss, but also encompasses other compartments of Hades:

Isaiah 14:15 - Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.
Proverbs 1:12 - Let us swallow them alive like Sheol, and whole, like those who go down to the Pit.
Isaiah 38:18 - For Sheol cannot thank You, Death cannot praise You; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your truth.

The passage below describes some of the different compartments of Hades:

Luke 16:23-26 - And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. "Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.' But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.'"

The compartments of Hades described in this passage are: "Abraham's bosom," "a great gulf," and "torments" (also called "Gehenna"; named after a valley in Jerusalem the ancients used as a garbage dump that continuously burned with fire). The fallen angels have their own compartment called "Tartarus" (2 Peter 2:4), which many believe is the deepest part of Hades, known as the abyss, or the pit in the center of the Earth.

The Hebrew word for "pit" can also be translated as "cistern," which is a narrow pit that is dug and sealed to hold something like water, or in this case fallen angels, or demons (Luke 8:27-31). The center of the Earth is in fact "bottomless," as every direction from the center is "up." The bottomless pit is the compartment in Hades that the "fallen star" in this chapter will open and where Satan will be bound (Revelation 20:1).

Below is a schematic of Hades and its different compartments that Christ described during His earthly ministry:

hades

Jesus was in Hades during the three days His body was in the grave:

Romans 10:6-7 - But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'"(that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, "'Who will descend into the abyss?'"(that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
Ephesians 4:8-10 - Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men." (Now this, "He ascended" - what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

Jesus preached to the spirits held captive in Hades:

1 Peter 3:18-19 - For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison.

Jesus was in the heart of the earth, which means He was in the bottomless pit, where He preached to all those imprisoned in all the compartments of Hades:

Matthew 12:40 - For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Jesus paid the ransom and penalty for our sin and death, through His own death. When Jesus rose again, He took the power over "Death" from Satan to release the souls of the righteous from "Abraham's bosom" in Hades, and raise them from the dead:

Hebrews 2:14-15 - Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Hosea 13:14 - "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes."
Acts 2:22-24, 27 - "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know - Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.... For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption."
Matthew 27:52-53 - And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

Abraham's bosom was also called "Paradise," where the souls of the righteous were kept in Hades:

Luke 23:39-43 - Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us." But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."

The Greek Septuagint translates the garden in Eden as "paradeisos," which is transliterated to "paradise" in English. This suggests that God moved the garden in Eden to Hades at some point after the fall, and the souls of the righteous went there when they died, until Jesus rose from the dead and took them to Heaven (Ephesians 4:8). According to Paul, Paradise is now in the "third Heaven," which is where God dwells today. Therefore, today Hades is an abode only for spirits that are not saved:

2 Corinthians 12:2-4 - I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago - whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows - such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man - whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows - how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Death and Hades, or Sheol, has "gates":

Matthew 16:18 - And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
Job 17:16 - "Will they go down to the gates of Sheol? Shall we have rest together in the dust?"
Job 38:17 - Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death?
Psalms 9:13-14 - Have mercy on me, O LORD! Consider my trouble from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death, that I may tell of all Your praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion. I will rejoice in Your salvation.
Psalms 107:13-19 - Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and broke their chains in pieces. Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He has broken the gates of bronze, and cut the bars of iron in two. Fools, because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, were afflicted. Their soul abhorred all manner of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses.
Isaiah 38:10 - I said, "In the prime of my life I shall go to the gates of Sheol; I am deprived of the remainder of my years."

Therefore, Jesus' possession of "the keys of Death and Hades" (Revelation 1:18) represents His power and authority to release those restrained behind these "gates." As we will see in the next few sections, Christ gives authority to the fallen star to release spirit beings that are bound behind the gate of the bottomless pit in Hades with a key. Oh the irony, if Satan (aka Lucifer) is this fallen star, and after he is cast out of Heaven he goes to the very place of his impending imprisonment:

Isaiah 14:12-15 - "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.' Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit."
Revelation 20:1-3 - Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.

It makes sense that the Lord gives Satan the key to unleash the occupants of the bottomless pit in the first "woe" and fifth Trumpet judgment. After Satan is cast out of Heaven, he becomes enraged "having great wrath" and "woe" against the "inhabitants of the earth":

Revelation 12:10-12 - Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time."
Revelation 8:13 - 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!"

Satan's first act of wrath could be releasing the occupants of the bottomless pit on the inhabitants of the earth. Just as God has used nations and spirit beings to pour out His wrath in the past (Zechariah 6:6-7), He can certainly use Satan to unleash the torments of the fifth Trumpet judgment on the inhabitants of the earth.


Revelation 9:2 - 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.

After the fallen star uses the key to open the bottomless pit, a thick dark smoke pours out of the pit. Apparently, there is passageway between the bottomless pit and the surface of the earth that is accessible through a gate that requires passage with the key. The smoke that comes out of the pit is "like the smoke of a great furnace." There are only two other times in Scripture where we see the phrase "smoke of a furnace." The first time is after God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah:

Genesis 19:24-28 - Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD. Then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain; and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace.

The second time we see "smoke of a furnace" is when Israel met with God at Mount Sinai:

Exodus 19:16-18 - Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.

In both cases, fire from God created smoke like the smoke of a furnace. A furnace in Scripture was generally used to refine and purify or smelt metal in a kiln, like the furnace Nebuchadnezzar cast Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego into (Daniel 3). Pictured below are a brick-kiln and a metal smelter furnace:

Smelters
Sources: Pic 1 Pic 2

The smoke from these furnaces is thick, dark, and billowy, similar to the smoke that ascends from manmade structures destroyed by fire, like that of the 2001 World Trade Center attack in New York, and the 1993 Branch Davidian raid in Waco, TX:

building destruction
Sources: Pic 1 Pic 2

It is easy to see how enough of this kind of smoke could darken the sun and air. This thick, dark, billowy smoke is reminiscent of ash ejected in major volcanic eruptions, like the ones pictured below:

volcanic eruptions
Sources: Pic 1  Pic 2  Pic 3  Pic 4  Pic 5  Pic 6 

Indeed, when the "star" opens the bottomless pit to the surface of the earth, the physical reaction could be like a super volcano going off, with enough smoke emitted to darken the sun and sky all over the globe.

God's fire is a refining fire like that in a smelter. Smoke from a refining fire is a "mixture of gases and suspended carbon particles resulting from the combustion of wood, peat, coal, or other organic matter" that does not survive the fire (source). In the Bema judgment of the Church, Paul likens useless works as wood, hay and straw, which burn in fire. The good works will survive God's refining fire as precious metals and stones, but the rest of the works will burn as refuse and be lost like smoke in a regular fire:

1 Corinthians 3:9-15 - For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

For those who take the mark of the beast in the Tribulation, only the smoke from their torment comes out of God's refining fire:

Revelation 14:9-11 - Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."

As just shown, torment is the process where the lost are continually burned with God's refining fire to pay the price for their sin. Their spirit bodies, or their "worm," act as a perpetual fuel for the fire to burn:

Isaiah 66:24 - "And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh."

The smoke is a byproduct of torment or the process of destruction, as seen in Babylon's destruction in the Tribulation:

Revelation 18:9-10 - "The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, 'Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.'"

As shown in Revelation 14:9-11, God will torment those who take the mark of the beast with fire and brimstone. The smoke from their torments will ascend forever; this would include both the torments in Hades, including the bottomless pit, and the torments in the "lake of fire" (Revelation 20:14). And as just discussed, the smoke that comes out of the bottomless pit is the torment or byproduct of those burning in God's fire there. That being said, the next few sections show that torment in Hades is more than just smoke of destruction in God's refining fire.

As a side note, smoke is also a characteristic of God's glory, as displayed at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19). This physical manifestation of God's glory depicts His holiness:

Isaiah 6:3-5 - And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!" And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."
Revelation 15:8 - The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.

After the Tribulation is over, God's glory will return as a cloud of smoke by day and a flame of fire by night, such as occurred during the time of the Exodus, which is a physical manifestation of God that symbolizes a covering over His people:

Isaiah 4:1-6 - And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, "We will eat our own food and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by your name, to take away our reproach." In that day the Branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious; and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing for those of Israel who have escaped. And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy - everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem. When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, then the LORD will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering. And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.

Revelation 9:3 - Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

Recall from Revelation 9:2, the smoke coming out of the bottomless pit is the byproduct of those aflame there in torment. Supernatural locusts come out of the smoke from the bottomless pit and fly out over the earth. These locusts are given power like that of an earthly scorpion, which is the sting in their tail (Revelation 9:10) that can torment humans (Revelation 9:5).

Just as a scorpion's tail can cause a sting, "Death" also has a sting:

1 Corinthians 15:54-56 - So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?" The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.

"The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). Christ paid the penalty and overcame death so that believers can also overcome death and its painful sting (Acts 2:24, Romans 5-6), but unbelievers will receive the sting of death by paying their wages of their sin by torment in the fire of God (Luke 16). Death is certainly depicted as an enemy that Christ has conquered, so it is interesting that He told his disciples that the power of scorpions is the power of the enemy, which includes demonic spirits and Satan:

Luke 10:18-20 - And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven."
scorpion fly
Source: Wikipedia

The passages above suggest the locusts emerging from the smoke from the torments of those in the bottomless pit could be the source of the "sting of death," and are given power like that of the enemy to inflict torment on living humans on the earth (Revelation 9:5).

These locusts with the sting of a scorpion are clearly not natural locusts, though as an interesting side note, there is such a locust that has a tail that looks like a scorpion's tail, called a "scorpion fly," pictured to the right. However, the scorpion fly does not sting, nor does it fit the other characteristics of the locusts from the bottomless pit described in Revelation 9:7-9:

Natural locusts swarm and run to and fro:

Isaiah 33:4 - And Your plunder shall be gathered like the gathering of the caterpillar; as the running to and fro of locusts, He shall run upon them.
Nahum 3:15-17 - There the fire will devour you, the sword will cut you off; it will eat you up like a locust. Make yourself many - like the locust! Make yourself many - like the swarming locusts! You have multiplied your merchants more than the stars of heaven. The locust plunders and flies away. Your commanders are like swarming locusts, and your generals like great grasshoppers, which camp in the hedges on a cold day; when the sun rises they flee away, and the place where they are is not known.

When the worst ever natural locust invasion overtook Egypt in the Exodus, their swarms were so thick that they darkened the land, much like smoke would:

Exodus 10:12-15 - Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land - all that the hail has left." So Moses stretched out his rod over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind on the land all that day and all that night. When it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt and rested on all the territory of Egypt. They were very severe; previously there had been no such locusts as they, nor shall there be such after them. For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they ate every herb of the land and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left. So there remained nothing green on the trees or on the plants of the field throughout all the land of Egypt.

Even today, locust swarms can darken the ground and the sky, as shown in the picture below:

Smelters
Source

Incidentally, the plague that came on Egypt after the locusts in the Exodus was darkness (Exodus 10:21-23). While this type of darkness will not be "felt" until the fifth Bowl judgment (Revelation 16:10-11), the smoke from the bottomless pit will certainly add to the darkness that arrives at the beginning of the Tribulation, which characterizes this whole period, also called the "day of the Lord":

Joel 2:1-2 - Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the LORD is coming, for it is at hand: A day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations.
Amos 5:18-20 - Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! For what good is the day of the LORD to you? It will be darkness, and not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him! Or as though he went into the house, leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him! Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light? Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it?
Zephaniah 1:14-15 - The great day of the LORD is near; it is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness....

Revelation 9:4 - 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.

Scripture depicts locusts as judgment from God in the form of a plague on the produce of the field:

Exodus 10:14-15 - And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt and rested on all the territory of Egypt. They were very severe; previously there had been no such locusts as they, nor shall there be such after them. For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they ate every herb of the land and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left. So there remained nothing green on the trees or on the plants of the field throughout all the land of Egypt.
Deuteronomy 28:15, 38, 42 - But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.... You shall carry much seed out to the field but gather little in, for the locust shall consume it.... Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land.
2 Chronicles 7:13-14 - When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Joel 1:4-7 - What the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten; what the swarming locust left, the crawling locust has eaten; and what the crawling locust left, the consuming locust has eaten. Awake, you drunkards, and weep; and wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the new wine, for it has been cut off from your mouth. For a nation has come up against My land, strong, and without number; his teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he has the fangs of a fierce lion. He has laid waste My vine, and ruined My fig tree; he has stripped it bare and thrown it away; its branches are made white.
Amos 4:9 - "I blasted you with blight and mildew. When your gardens increased, your vineyards, your fig trees, and your olive trees, the locust devoured them; yet you have not returned to Me," Says the LORD.
Amos 7:1-2 - Thus the Lord GOD showed me: Behold, He formed locust swarms at the beginning of the late crop; indeed it was the late crop after the king's mowings. And so it was, when they had finished eating the grass of the land, that I said: "O Lord GOD, forgive, I pray! Oh, that Jacob may stand, for he is small!"

In contrast to natural locusts, the locusts that come out of the bottomless pit do not harm any vegetation in judgment. Instead of devouring vegetation, these locusts are given authority to torment people with a sting of a scorpion, as shown in the last section.

Recall from Revelation 7:3, vegetation can be metaphors for kingdom, nations, or people in Scripture. But in the context of the passage of discussion, it doesn't make sense to allegorize vegetation and trees as people because they represent all people groups in Scripture. In other words, no one would suffer the fifth Trumpet judgment if the green vegetation and trees were metaphors for people, as shown in the passages listed below:

Trees:

Grass and green herbs:

God's command to not harm literal grass, green vegetation, and trees reinforces the idea that these locusts are supernatural, in that they are given power to harm humans instead of vegetation, like natural locusts do.

John tells us that only the sealed servants of God are exempt from this judgment. Recall from Revelation 7, those sealed on their foreheads with the seal of God are the 144,000 Jewish servants:

Revelation 7:2-4 - Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, "Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads." And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed...

Protection of the 144,000 Jewish servants from this judgment is reminiscent of the three Jewish men God protected in the midst of Nebuchadnezzar's fiery furnace:

Daniel 3:10-13 - You, O king, have made a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the gold image; and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up." Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. So they brought these men before the king.
Daniel 3:19-20 - Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
Daniel 3:24-26 - Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, "Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?" They answered and said to the king, "True, O king." "Look!" he answered, "I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here." Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire.

Note that Nebuchadnezzar made the fiery furnace "seven" times hotter than normal, which parallels the "fiery trial" of the seven-year Tribulation for the Jewish people:

Zechariah 13:9 - "I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'This is My people'; and each one will say, 'The LORD is my God.'"

This brings up the question of whether only the 144,000 sealed Jewish servants are the only ones spared from the fifth Seal judgment, or if this includes other believers too. In eternity all the servants of God from all dispensations will have the name of God on their foreheads, which is the same as the seal of God (Revelation 14:1):

Revelation 22:3-4 - And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.

The Holy Spirit seals those in the Church Age upon salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14 ). However, we do not know when this sealing takes place for believers after the Church Age. The only time we see "sealing" take place during the Tribulation is when the angel seals the 144,000 Jewish servants (Revelation 7:3). That said, the two witnesses in Revelation 11:4 are "anointed" ones of God (Zechariah 4:14). The Hebrew word for "anointed" is "oil," also used to describe the Holy Spirit, as discussed in Revelation 5:8. Like the 144,000 Jewish servants, the two witnesses are supernaturally protected until their mission is complete and God allows the beast to overtake them (Revelation 11:7). Being anointed by the Holy Spirit and receiving supernatural protection suggests that these two witnesses are also sealed servants of God like the 144,000.

Unfortunately, there is no clear evidence that the rest of the Tribulation saints have any supernatural protection like the 144,000 servants and the two witnesses, except for the Jewish remnant protected by God from Satan during the time of the fifth Trumpet judgment. We will discuss this supernatural protection of the Jewish remnant and their possible exemption from this judgment in the next section. The rest of the Tribulation saints are clearly subject to many of the Tribulation judgments (Revelation 7:16), but the last three Trumpet judgments, which include all the Bowl judgments, are against the "inhabitants of the earth":

Revelation 8:13 - 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!"

Recall from Revelation 6:10, that the "earth dwellers" are unbelievers who murder the saints. Therefore, it is possible that God protects the Tribulation saints from the worst of the judgments if one assumes only unregenerate people are among the "earth dwellers" and not those that repent and become saved after the fifth Seal judgment. This also assumes all believers receive the seal of God on their forehead in the Tribulation upon salvation, but there is no clear support for this.

It is true that believers are not considered citizens of the earth (Philippians 3:20), however, as shown in Revelation 7:16, some of the saints that die in the Tribulation suffer from heat and from the sun. The only judgments that involve suffering from heat and the sun is the sixth Trumpet and fourth Bowl judgments, which are both included in the three woes directed at the "inhabitants of the earth" (Revelation 8:13). This suggests the Tribulation saints are not spared from these particular judgments either and are thus still considered "inhabitants of the earth" and are subject to all the Tribulation judgments and are not sealed like 144,000 Jewish servants.

There are some who point to the following passage directed specifically toward Jesus' disciples, who suggest Tribulation saints have protection from the demonic powers of the fifth and sixth Trumpet judgments, that deliver stings like a scorpion's tail (Revelation 9:10) and lethal venom from a serpent's strike (Revelation 9:19):

Luke 10:17-20 - Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven."

However, Tribulation saints are clearly not protected from the powers of the enemy in the Tribulation:

Daniel 7:21-22 - I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.
Revelation 13:4-7 - So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?" And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.

While it is a popular notion among commentators to exempt Tribulation saints from this horrific judgment, the support they give is generally based on Scripture intended for those who live in the "dispensation of grace" in the Church Age, where the Holy Spirit seals believers as a promise of their redemption (2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Ephesians 1:13-14). The Tribulation is a "dispensation of Judgment" and the Holy Spirit will operate differently than during the "dispensation of grace." (Click here for more on the sealing of the Holy Spirit in these two dispensations). It is important to keep in mind that the Tribulation is for the purpose of turning Israel back to God, but it is also the time in which God will pour out His wrath to make "reconciliation for iniquity."

With no promises of protection from God's wrath in the "dispensation of judgment," unbelievers should take heed to accept the gift of salvation in the "dispensation of grace," and not wait and be subjected to the horrors of the Tribulation:

2 Corinthians 6:1-2 - We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."

Revelation 9:5 - 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.

The locusts from the bottomless pit are given authority from God to torment men with the sting of a scorpion for five months. The following medical website describes what the sting of a scorpion feels like and the possible side effects that can follow:

    Scorpion stings are painful, and they can be fatal, particularly to children.... In general, the sting usually causes discomfort that slowly decreases over time. The discomfort, described below, usually ranges from moderate to severe.

    • A person who has been stung by a scorpion may feel a painful, tingling, burning or numbing sensation at the sting site.
    • The reaction at the sting site may appear mild. However, infrequently, a person experiencing a serious reaction may develop severe symptoms throughout the body. Severe symptoms include widespread numbness, difficulty swallowing, a thick tongue, blurred vision, roving eye movements, seizures, salivation, and difficulty breathing. These symptoms constitute a medical emergency. Death may occur.

    Source: www.emedicinehealth.com

Undoubtedly, the sting from these locusts from the pit of Hell will deliver severe ailments, or John would not have described them as "torment." Indeed, the torment will likely be the same for those on Earth as it is for the inhabitants of the bottomless pit.

Incidentally, the same Hebrew word for "scorpion" was also used figuratively to describe a scourge or knotted whip with points that would rip into the skin and sting like a strike from a scorpion. This same type of cruel whip is what was likely used when Pilate had Jesus scourged and tortured (Matthew 27:24-26, Mark 15:15, John 19:1):

1 Kings 12:11-14 - "'And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!'" So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king had directed, saying, "Come back to me the third day." Then the king answered the people roughly, and rejected the advice which the elders had given him; and he spoke to them according to the advice of the young men, saying, "My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!"
2 Chronicles 10:11-14 - "'And now, whereas my father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!'" So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day, as the king had directed, saying, "Come back to me the third day." Then the king answered them roughly. King Rehoboam rejected the advice of the elders, and he spoke to them according to the advice of the young men, saying, "My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!"

Recall from Revelation 9:3, the locusts that emerge from the smoke that comes out of the bottomless pit could be the source of the "sting of death." Indeed, we see in the passages below that not only humans, but spirit beings are also subject to the torments from Hades:

Luke 16:20-28 - But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. "Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.' But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.' "Then he said, 'I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.'
Luke 8:27-31 - And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, "What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!" For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness. Jesus asked him, saying, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion," because many demons had entered him. And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss.

The passage above about the demonic horde called "Legion," shows that the inhabitants of the bottomless pit, or the abyss, experience torment. The current occupants of the bottomless pit are fallen angels, who are being held in chains for committing abhorrent sins against God like the occupants of Sodom and Gomorrah:

2 Peter 2:4 - For if 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....
Jude 1:6-7 - 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; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

Some read these passages and deduce that these fallen angels are the tormenting locust horde, being reserved for the fifth Trumpet judgment. But note that they are held in "everlasting chains," not temporary chains. In addition, the demonic group "Legion" indicates that the occupants of the abyss experience torment. I believe this shows that the angels held in everlasting chains are presently tormented by the locusts that the "fallen star" releases on earth in the fifth Trumpet judgment. In other words, the fallen angels are not the locust horde, but are tormented by the horde. In fact, there are at least four different groups of "spirit beings" described in Scripture: cherubs, angels, demons, and spirits of torment:


Seraphim & Cherubim Living creatures of two varieties (Ezekiel 10, Revelation 4)
Satan (Ezekiel 28)
Angels Holy angels (Matthew 25, Mark 8, Luke 9, Revelation 14 )
Satan's angels (Matthew 25, Revelation 12 )
Demons Unclean spirits that seek a physical body to inhabit (Matthew 12)
Spirits of Torment Locusts from the bottomless pit (Revelation 9)
The possible source of torment on those in the rest of Hades (Luke 16)

Seraphim and Cherubs like Satan appear as a higher order in the angelic host. They manifest in the form of supernatural beasts, like dragons, lions, oxen, and eagles. Many have the face of a man but are still beasts in form. On the other hand, angels appear as men and not beasts in Scripture. The holy angels are messengers of God. The fallen angels have rejected God and follow Satan who is a cherub (Ezekiel 28:14). Some angels left their first abode, sinning greatly against God, and as a result are held in chains in the bottomless pit to await judgment (Jude 1:6). Many believe the great sin of leaving their first abode was that these fallen angels somehow mated with women to produce a hybrid race of giant demigods, called the "Nephilim" in Hebrew, before the flood:

Genesis 6:1-4 - Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. And the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

The Hebrew word "Nephilim" translated "giants," comes from the word "naphal," which means to fall, so the giants that were born before the flood were the "fallen ones," which shows that they are irredeemable spirit beings. Yet, the Nephilim had a human body. The following passage supports the notion found in some extra-Scriptural sources that when the Nephilim died, God allowed their spirits to roam the earth to seek a body to inhabit:

Matthew 12:43-45 - "When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation."

These unclean spirits seeking a body are also called demons throughout Scripture. That said, Satan being a cherub also entered a human like a demon (John 13:27), but he did so for a specific purpose to use Judas to betray Jesus, whereas demons inhabit a body to "seek rest" (Matthew 12:43). In other words, demons have an intense hunger to enter a body to gain a sense of peace, but Satan enters a body to further his agenda. Furthermore, Satan does not wander through "dry places" like a demon without a body; he maintains much freedom as the "prince of the power of the air," with access before the throne of God in Heaven, as discussed in Revelation 8:2, and working in the "sons of disobedience" on Earth as the Lord allows:

Ephesians 2:1-2 - And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience....

The last group of spirit beings found in Scripture are the "spirits of torment." Demons can and do torment humans on Earth:

Luke 6:17-18 - And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed.
Luke 8:29-30 - For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness. Jesus asked him, saying, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion," because many demons had entered him.
Acts 5:16 - Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.

However, demons fear the torment that they face in the bottomless pit:

Luke 8:27-28, 31-32 - And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, "What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me...." And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss. Now a herd of many swine was feeding there on the mountain. So they begged Him that He would permit them to enter them. And He permitted them.

While it could just be the tormenting fire the demons fear, it might be something more that they fear. Perhaps God created the locusts from the bottomless pit for the specific purpose to torment the inhabitants of the bottomless pit. Consider that in the Law of Moses God deems locust as "kosher," or clean for Jews to eat:

Leviticus 11:22-24 - These you may eat: the locust after its kind, the destroying locust after its kind, the cricket after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind. But all other flying insects which have four feet shall be an abomination to you. 'By these you shall become unclean; whoever touches the carcass of any of them shall be unclean until evening....'

On the other hand demons are always pictured as "unclean":

Luke 4:33-35 - Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are - the Holy One of God!" But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!" And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him.
Luke 8:29 - For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness.
Luke 9:42 - And as he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him. Then Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the child, and gave him back to his father.

Scripture depicts these unclean spirits as unclean creatures (Leviticus 11):

Revelation 18:2 - And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!
Isaiah 13:19-22 - And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans' pride, will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It will never be inhabited, nor will it be settled from generation to generation; nor will the Arabian pitch tents there, nor will the shepherds make their sheepfolds there. But wild beasts of the desert will lie there, and their houses will be full of owls; ostriches will dwell there, and wild goats [satyrs] will caper there. The hyenas will howl in their citadels, and jackals in their pleasant palaces. Her time is near to come, and her days will not be prolonged."
Isaiah 34:5, 9-15 - "For My sword shall be bathed in heaven; indeed it shall come down on Edom, and on the people of My curse, for judgment.... Its streams shall be turned into pitch, and its dust into brimstone; its land shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night or day; its smoke shall ascend forever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste; no one shall pass through it forever and ever. But the pelican and the porcupine shall possess it, also the owl and the raven shall dwell in it. And He shall stretch out over it the line of confusion and the stones of emptiness. They shall call its nobles to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all its princes shall be nothing. And thorns shall come up in its palaces, nettles and brambles in its fortresses; it shall be a habitation of jackals, a courtyard for ostriches. The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the jackals, and the wild goat [satyr] shall bleat to its companion; also the night creature shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest. There the arrow snake shall make her nest and lay eggs and hatch, and gather them under her shadow; there also shall the hawks be gathered, every one with her mate.

In short, demons are unclean and locusts are clean, which suggests the locusts from the bottomless pit are not demons or unclean spirits, but clean spirits made for the purpose of tormenting the unregenerate, including demons.

The "fallen star" will unleash the tormenting locusts on the inhabitants of Earth for five months. Interestingly, the swarming locusts that are prevalent in the Middle East and Asia typically live about five months in ideal conditions (source). It was also five months, or 150 days that the flood waters prevailed on the earth during the days of Noah:

Genesis 7:11, 23-24 - In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.... So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive. And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days.

The deep waters like those in the flood or in an ocean are metaphorically used in the passages below to describe Hell (aka Sheol, or the pit):

Ezekiel 26:19-20 - "For thus says the Lord GOD: 'When I make you a desolate city, like cities that are not inhabited, when I bring the deep upon you, and great waters cover you, then I will bring you down with those who descend into the Pit, to the people of old, and I will make you dwell in the lowest part of the earth, in places desolate from antiquity, with those who go down to the Pit, so that you may never be inhabited; and I shall establish glory in the land of the living."
Jonah 2:1-6 - Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish's belly. And he said: "I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction, and He answered me. "Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice. For You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the floods surrounded me; all Your billows and Your waves passed over me. Then I said, 'I have been cast out of Your sight; yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.' The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; the deep closed around me; weeds were wrapped around my head. I went down to the moorings of the mountains; the earth with its bars closed behind me forever; yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD, my God.

David's messianic psalm, describing Jesus' death and subsequent trip to the heart of the earth, also portrays Hell as deep, flooding waters:

Psalms 69:1-2, 7-9, 14-15, 29-21, 24 - To the Chief Musician. Set to "The Lilies." A Psalm of David. Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.... Because for Your sake I have borne reproach; shame has covered my face. I have become a stranger to my brothers, and an alien to my mother's children; because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.... Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink; Let me be delivered from those who hate me, and out of the deep waters. Let not the floodwater overflow me, nor let the deep swallow me up; and let not the pit shut its mouth on me.... You know my reproach, my shame, and my dishonor; my adversaries are all before You. Reproach has broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness; I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.... Pour out Your indignation upon them, and let Your wrathful anger take hold of them.

This passage shows fulfillment of prophecy when the Roman soldiers tried to offer Jesus vinegar to drink while He was on the cross (Matthew 27:48, Mark 15:36, John 19:29-30). We also see in this passage that Jesus would go to the pit in "reproach," but would not be left there and God will take away His reproach when He pours out His wrath in the Tribulation and destroys His enemies.

It is intriguing that the only other time in Scripture we see a five month period specified is when Elizabeth hides herself after she conceived John the Baptist:

Luke 1:24-26 - Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, "Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people."

Elizabeth had been barren (Luke 1:36). Barrenness for a woman was a "reproach" or a disgrace in those days. Recall from Zechariah 6:6-7, God warned Israel that they would be a "reproach" among the nations if they did not heed His Word and He would send after them His four severe judgments (sword, famine, pestilence, wild beasts):

Jeremiah 29:18-19 - And I will pursue them with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence; and I will deliver them to trouble among all the kingdoms of the earth - to be a curse, an astonishment, a hissing, and a reproach among all the nations where I have driven them, because they have not heeded My words, says the LORD, which I sent to them by My servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; neither would you heed, says the LORD.
Ezekiel 5:14-17 - "Moreover I will make you a waste and a reproach among the nations that are all around you, in the sight of all who pass by. 'So it shall be a reproach, a taunt, a lesson, and an astonishment to the nations that are all around you, when I execute judgments among you in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes. I, the LORD, have spoken. When I send against them the terrible arrows of famine which shall be for destruction, which I will send to destroy you, I will increase the famine upon you and cut off your supply of bread. So I will send against you famine and wild beasts, and they will bereave you. Pestilence and blood shall pass through you, and I will bring the sword against you. I, the LORD, have spoken.'"

God uses these same four severe judgments in the Seal judgments at the beginning of "Daniel's 70th Week," or the Tribulation (Zechariah 6:6-7). As mentioned in the last section, it is important to keep in mind that the Tribulation is for the purpose of turning Israel back to God, and for God to pour out His wrath to make "reconciliation for iniquity." Through the Seal judgments, a believing remnant of Israel will emerge just as a remnant survived after God poured out His four severe judgments before the Babylonian exile:

Ezekiel 14:21-22 - For thus says the Lord GOD: "How much more it shall be when I send My four severe judgments on Jerusalem - the sword and famine and wild beasts and pestilence - to cut off man and beast from it? Yet behold, there shall be left in it a remnant who will be brought out, both sons and daughters; surely they will come out to you, and you will see their ways and their doings. Then you will be comforted concerning the disaster that I have brought upon Jerusalem, all that I have brought upon it.

In the middle of the Tribulation, when the antichrist, or the beast, desecrates the temple, the Jewish remnant will flee to the wilderness (Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14), where God will protect them supernaturally for the last half of the Tribulation:

Revelation 12:1-6 - Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

Israel brought forth the Messiah. God would have taken Israel's reproach away when the Messiah came the first time through the virgin birth, but they rejected Him. But a believing remnant of Israel, pictured in the passage above as the woman who gave birth to the Messiah, will accept Him as the Redeemer in the Tribulation. God will then take away their reproach, when He becomes their husband again and gives them their inheritance:

Isaiah 54:1-5 - "Sing, O barren, you who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you who have not labored with child! For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married woman," says the LORD. "Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; do not spare; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes. For you shall expand to the right and to the left, and your descendants will inherit the nations, and make the desolate cities inhabited. "Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore. For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth.
Ezekiel 36:12-15 - "...Yes, I will cause men to walk on you, My people Israel; they shall take possession of you, and you shall be their inheritance; no more shall you bereave them of children." 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Because they say to you, 'You devour men and bereave your nation of children,' therefore you shall devour men no more, nor bereave your nation anymore," says the Lord GOD. Nor will I let you hear the taunts of the nations anymore, nor bear the reproach of the peoples anymore, nor shall you cause your nation to stumble anymore," says the Lord GOD.'"

During the Trumpet judgments, Israel's remnant will be supernaturally protected from Satan:

Israel protected in the wilderness
Revelation 12:14-17 - But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

As discussed in Revelation 9:1, the evidence strongly points to Satan being the fallen star who is given authority to release the locusts from the bottomless pit. If Satan is the one to release this tormenting horde, then God will protect the Jewish remnant because He promised to protect them from Satan (Revelation 12:14). There is also precedence in Scripture where God has separated His people in times of judgment, shown in the passages below:

Genesis 6:13-14, 17-18 - And God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch.... And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark - you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you.
Exodus 11:4-7 - Then Moses said, "Thus says the LORD: 'About midnight I will go out into the midst of Egypt; and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the female servant who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the animals. Then there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as was not like it before, nor shall be like it again. But against none of the children of Israel shall a dog move its tongue, against man or beast, that you may know that the LORD does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.'
Genesis 19:12-13, 16-17 - Then the men said to Lot, "Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city - take them out of this place! For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it...." And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife's hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, "Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed."
Genesis 19:20-24 - "See now, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one; please let me escape there (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live." And he said to him, "See, I have favored you concerning this thing also, in that I will not overthrow this city for which you have spoken. Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there." Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens.

The time the locusts are on the earth will literally be five months of Hell on Earth. Since the Jewish remnant will be "hid" in the wilderness from Satan, perhaps God spares them from the tormenting locusts if Satan is the one who releases them as mentioned above. Just like Elizabeth who hid for five months after her barrenness ended and God removed her reproach, Israel will realize that her barrenness has ended and God will take their reproach away and they will be hid from Satan's wrath. This could include the unleashing of the "deep," or the "pit," which covers the earth and the air in smoke and tormenting locusts for five months; much like the waters covered the earth for five months during the flood. In fact, the flood that Satan spews out of his mouth while they are hid in the wilderness might be a picture of the remnant's protection from the tormenting locusts:

Revelation 12:15-16 - So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.

As discussed earlier, flood waters are a picture of the abyss in Scripture, Here we see that God protects His remnant from these waters unleashed by Satan. In other words, the locusts unleashed from the bottomless pit by Satan that come to target the Jewish remnant would get swallowed up by the earth and return to the abyss before they can hurt the protected remnant.

While it is certainly not clear that God spares the Jewish remnant completely from the Trumpet and Bowl judgments, God's promise to "nourish" them through the second half of the Tribulation and protect them from Satan suggests that God also protects them from the fifth Trumpet judgment, if Satan is the "fallen star" that releases the tormenting locusts (Revelation 12:14).

That said, the clear reading of Revelation 9:5 tells us that only those who have the seal of God on their forehead are exempt, and the only place we see God's servants sealed on their foreheads is in Revelation 7:3, when the angel seals the 144,000 Jewish servants. While it is possible God seals the Jewish remnant, we are not told this. Therefore, protection for the Jewish remnant from the fifth Trumpet judgment is merely conjecture based on the interpretation that Satan is the "fallen star" that releases the tormenting locusts because God promised to protect His remnant from Satan (Revelation 12:14).


Revelation 9:6 - In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.

As pointed out in the last section, the tormenting locusts will literally bring Hell on Earth's inhabitants. In Hell, there is no peace or finality as some picture death; the consciousness of the lost continues on for eternity in torment:

Isaiah 66:24 - "And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh."
Luke 16:23-24 - And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. "Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.'"
Revelation 14:9-11 - Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."

In reality, God is merciful to give the inhabitants of Earth five months of Hell to experience so that they might repent and not be tormented for eternity. Note that the locusts are not given authority to kill men (Revelation 9:5); only to torment them. Satan was similarly restricted when God allowed him to take away Job's possessions and torment Job with boils, but Satan was not allowed to take Job's life:

Job 2:3-7 - Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause." So Satan answered the LORD and said, "Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!" And the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life." So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.

Job felt tormented to the point that he desired release in death like those in torment from the locust horde:

Job 3:16-22 - Or why was I not hidden like a stillborn child, like infants who never saw light? There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest. There the prisoners rest together; they do not hear the voice of the oppressor. The small and great are there, and the servant is free from his master. "Why is light given to him who is in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, who long for death, but it does not come, and search for it more than hidden treasures; who rejoice exceedingly, and are glad when they can find the grave?"

Job would have found release in death, being righteous, but he did not attempt to take his own life, as he feared God and submitted his life to Him:

Job 6:2-4, 8-9 - Oh, that my grief were fully weighed, and my calamity laid with it on the scales! For then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea - therefore my words have been rash. For the arrows of the Almighty are within me; my spirit drinks in their poison; the terrors of God are arrayed against me.... Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant me the thing that I long for! That it would please God to crush me, that He would loose His hand and cut me off!

In contrast, Judas Iscariot rejected God and sought escape through suicide from the torment of his guilt for betraying Jesus:

Matthew 27:1-5 - When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death. And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor. Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." And they said, "What is that to us? You see to it!" Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.

For Judas, release from death was a deception, as he went to eternal torment in perdition:

John 17:12 - While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
John 6:64-71 - But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father." From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.

Judas was remorseful and felt sorry for himself, but he wasn't repentant. Likewise, after the next Trumpet judgment, which is more horrific than the tormenting locusts, men continue in defiance against God, refusing to repent:

Revelation 9:20-21 - But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

It seems that even a taste of Hell on Earth will not move most to repent and turn to God, but God in His mercy gives them five months to do so, making death impossible for them. Many will die in the next judgment, only to find themselves in eternal torment with no means of the escape they sought while being tormented by the locusts on earth.

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Revelation Flow Chart

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