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. 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. Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 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. 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. In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them. The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle. They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months. And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon. Rev 9:1-11
It was the unanimous opinion of the Protestant theologians before the advent of the futurist interpretation of Revelation, that these passages describe the rise of Islam.
A fallen star is a spiritual power of demonic nature. Mohammed claimed to have received the revelation of Islam from an angel in 609.
The bottomless pit only appears in Revelation, but its Greek word, abyssos, does appear elsewhere in Scripture. In Luk 8:31, the demons, Legion, who are to be cast out of the Gadarene demoniac, beg Jesus that they not be sent into the abyss, but instead ask to depart into a herd of swine. And also, in Rom 10:7, Paul admonishes that we should not ask who will descend into the abyss, so as to bring Messiah up from the dead. This abyss is the same as the bottomless pit of Revelation, it appears to be the same as Hell.
When the fallen star opens the bottomless pit, smoke darkens the light and clouds the air. This is a powerful picture of confusion (we still say, when our mental faculties are dulled and confused, that our brains are in a fog) and inability to see truth, symbolized by the light of the sun. Arabia as a province of the Roman empire had contained many Christian communities at Mohammed’s birth (570). At his death in 632, there were none. The light of the gospel had been extinguished by the military force of the converts to the new religion.
The symbolism of the army of locusts is especially interesting. We know this army is not an army of literal locusts, for they do not harm any green thing, which is not what natural locusts do; natural locusts are complete in their destruction of any and every vegetation, even to the doors on houses. The locust is the natural symbol of Arabia, as the eagle is of America or the bear is of Russia. Locusts originate in the Arabian desert, as even Scripture attests (Arabia is directly east of Egypt).
“As some confirmation of this, or as showing how natural the symbol would be, a remark may be introduced from Mr. Forster. In his Mohammedanism Unveiled, (i. 217,) he says, “In the Bedoween romance of Antar, the locust is introduced as the national emblem of the Ishmaelites. And it is a remarkable coincidence that Mohammedan tradition speaks of locusts having dropped into the hands of Mohammed, bearing on their wings this inscription–’We are the army of the Great God.’”
— Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament
The Koran states, “When you fight the battles of the Lord…[d]estroy no palm trees, nor burn any fields of grain. Cut down no fruit trees…”.
The mandate of the army of locusts is not to harm believers (those with the seal of God), but only unbelievers — traditionally, the Church interpreted this as the Mohammedans defined believers and unbelievers: in Islam, there are only two classes of people, and these classes are only defined along religious lines, not political or societal or any other distinction. There are the adherents of Islam, i.e., those with the seal of God, and infidels, those without the seal of God.
But I disagree: those who have the seal of God on their foreheads clearly refers back to Rev 7, where only the bondservants of the living God were sealed. While the Mohammedans serve someone, it is not the living God. So why do they say it is those who do not have the seal of God, according to the Mohammedans? Because the provinces which fell to Islam were formerly Christian. However, every person in those provinces, if they were not a Jew, was considered a Christian, i.e., a member of the Church and of society. When a pagan king converted to Christianity, all his men and their families were baptized as well, on his order. Did that make them all Christians, bondservants of the living God? No.
The Mohammedan was commanded to let alone those who were living quiet and simple lives of piety (Barnes Notes on the New Testament). I think those who were truly sealed with the seal of the living God on their foreheads, went on living their simple and quiet lives, unvexed by the Mohammedans. They were content in whatever circumstance they found themselves, trusting in the Lord their God in this life, as well as the next.
So the authority of the army pf locusts was not to kill and take life, but to cause torment, as the sting of a scorpion is not usually fatal, but exceedingly painful, causing misery and suffering. This is also true of the military conquest of Islam following the death of Mohammed; their preference was to leave the populations of provinces and communities intact, seeking rather to change their religion or to receive their tribute, rather than to take their lives.
revelation 9, the fifth trumpet: the army of locusts
revelation 9, the duration of the fifth trumpet
revelation 9, the fifth trumpet of torment but not death
revelation 9, the conclusion of the fifth trumpet
Christine’s book The Revelation of Jesus Christ Revealed, based on these studies but greatly expanded, is now available at Revelation Revealed Online. You may also be interested in reading the Book Extras and joining in on the Discussion.