9:1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven to the earth; and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
A Star: as in other places (6:13; 8:10) a star represents spiritual powers, usually false spiritual powers.
9:2 And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. 3. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth; and to them was given power as the scorpions of the earth have power.
Smoke out of the pit: Smoke out of the pit is a figure of confusion and the source of it is the underworld. Smoke in the air is a figure of confusion in the real of thought. The light is dimmed by the smoke and it is difficult to see clearly. This happens in the implied second one third of the world.
9:4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass, neither any green thing, neither any tree, but only those men who have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
Not hurt: a different scheme than the “four winds” whose intent was destruction.
Men who have not the seal of God in their foreheads: The commission was to hurt the “unbelievers.”
9:5 And it was given to them that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months; and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. 6. And in those days men shall seek death and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. 7. And the shape of the locusts [were] like horses prepared for battle; and on their heads, as it were crowns like gold and their faces were like the faces of men. 8. And they had hair like the hair of women, and their teeth were like [the teeth] of lions. 9. And they had breast plates as it were breast plates of iron;and the sound of their wings [was] like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle. 10. And they had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails; and their power was to hurt men five months.
Five Months: The ninth chapter of Daniel is the key to the principle that one day in prophecy is equal to one year in the fulfillment. The duration of the “hurting” portion of this prophecy therefore should be 150 years. The cloud of smoke has no such limitation.
9:11 And they had a king over them, [who is] the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek he has the name Apollyon. 12. The first woe is past, behold, There are two woes yet to come.
Two woes yet to come: This continues the clues as to design. Trumpets six and seven are woe trumpets.
We have seen that one third of the old Mediterranean world or Roman Empire was lost to barbarian invasions. The two thirds of the Roman Empire left were to fall in two separate periods of time. One third of the Empire did actually fall to the Arab conquests following the death of Mohammed in 632. By 732 the Arabs reached their most distant penetration in Europe.
It would be another 50 years, or 150 in total when they would reach their zenith and turn from conquest and then hold the territories they had gained, with only little loss until the rise of the Turks.
In the next section, under the sixth trumpet, we will notice the last part of the Roman Empire symbolized as the “third part of men” completing the fall of the Roman world.
Thus the first four trumpets are designed to picture a third of the Roman world’s fall to the barbarian nations, where the symbols state that they are to affect one third part; the sixth trumpet also affects a third part of men; which means the fifth trumpet ought to also be a blow against the third part, to complete the series.
A look at the historical maps in the appendix outlining the period will quickly support the second third-part of the Empire falling to the Arabs. The historical facts of the rise of Islam are well known. The symbol here is seemingly obscure, but has some clues to mark the Arab conquests as that pictured here.
(1) The time is right. After the fall of Rome to the barbarians, the next significant event in history is the rise of Islam under the Arabs. The second third of the Roman world did indeed fall to them. See map number 3 in the appendix.
(2) The symbol of a star from heaven matches the claim of the prophet to have received his message from heaven, though the source is pictured as the bottomless pit.
This is not to suggest that the Islamic false prophecy is more demonic than any other false doctrine, but to indicate the source of all false teaching. This false teaching has been more far reaching than any other and is very extensive, however.
It is pictured as smoke that darkens the implied one third part of the world, and of the air, and of the sun, marking the locations of land boundaries, and of ideas, and the source of enlightenment, respectively. This could not be a better picture of this difficult and disturbingly tenacious doctrine. It is a false doctrine, and those under it have great difficulty seeing the light.
(3) Locusts are a symbol that as a result of Bible study, would lead one to Arabia. The locusts of the ten plagues indicate the locusts came from the direction of Arabia, as in Ex. 10:13, “in the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day, … and the east wind brought the locusts.” The source would be Arabia which is east of Egypt.
(4) In verse four the command is given to them not to hurt vegetation, but only those not sealed of God. This agrees with their purpose. Before being conquered, nations were given the choice of accepting the new religion of Islam and becoming part of the Islamic commonwealth and enjoying the fruits of the new community being formed, or keeping their traditional religion and paying a heavy tax to the conquerors; or, if the nation would accept neither, the Arabs would wage war and give what terms they desired upon conquest.
This cry of “Islam, the tribute, or the sword,” and their behavior agrees with the command not to destroy the grass or green thing or tree if they did not have to.
(5) The enemy of those who came out of the smoke is said to be those not sealed of God. And so those who arose as proponents of the new religion of Islam, that is, those who came out of the smoke, or the Mohammedans, went forth to slay the infidel and idolater, agreeing with the figure in verse four. From their standpoint any person not accepting the message of Allah was an unbeliever. Also from the point of view of many, Roman Christianity was idolatrous, with its superstitions, statues that moved, and other artifices.
(6) The duration of their torment is given as five months or five times thirty days or one hundred and fifty prophetic day-years. It is noted by many that from the rise of Islam in Arabia in 622 until the founding of Baghdad when the Islamic commonwealth settled down from its life of conquest is 150 years.
From that time when they began to develop science and arts, the Mohammedan Arabs would occupy their third of the world until a new invader would come in the eleventh century and adopt their religion and spread it with the fanaticism of new converts and blot out the remaining one third of the Roman Empire.
(7) Their leader carries a symbolic name in both Hebrew and Greek, which is said to mean destroyer. What is more significant is that the leader is the messenger of the bottomless pit. He sends a fog or smoke that darkens the light of knowledge and true religion. Islamic nations have been so held in the bondage of this false doctrine for over 1300 years. One cannot preach the gospel in those lands. If one could preach the gospel, there is still the confusion of Islam in the minds of its adherents that darkens the understanding.
* One would pray that this will soon change; that in those lands, freedom from religious coercion could soon be a fact of life and political freedom might follow. You could barely find another period which would have these same correspondences between these figures and the historical subject.
* The Koran says that Jesus was a true prophet but the teaching of Islam is that Jesus’ disciples did not tell the truth about what Jesus said about himself. The Koran says, He was born of a virgin, but He did not rise from the dead; in fact, He was not dead on the cross. His disciples are said to have made up the rest and that the Gospels are corrupt versions of an earlier “true injil.”
Thus the Muslim is offended when he treats “our prophet” with respect and we do not reciprocate the same level of respect, i.e., that Mohammed is a true prophet on the same level with Jesus. For a fuller understanding of the confusion in Islam, its teachings which intersect with Christianity, and how to prepare yourself to understand and teach a Muslim, we recommend you read, Compendium on Islam; Pub. Alan Ashurst, 60 Kenwood Road, Stretford, Manchester, U.K. 1988.
The nature of Islam has not changed. Its adherents still believe that the faith of Islam can be spread by “jihad” or Holy War.
Coercion has been and still is very much a part of keeping the faithful in line. I am acquainted with several converts to Christianity who have suffered physically from their former co-religionists and relatives for these matters of conscience.
I personally baptized a convert from Islam in London, who is a university graduate who teaches in a Muslim country in a college of law. If I mentioned his name openly with all certainty his position would be jeopardized, and his life could well be in danger. Islamic groups are currently “evangelizing” among Christian nations.
This same freedom could hardly be reciprocated in the nation which houses Mecca, where freedom of religion is not a civil right.