And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone. And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them. In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth; they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle. They have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for five months is in their tails. They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon. Revelation 9:1-11
It is the unanimous opinion of the Protestant theologians before the futurist interpretation became popular, that these passages describe the rise of Islam. Rather than repeat what others have already said (here, here, and here, for some good examples; read these commentaries, they are very enlightening) I will just reiterate some points from Arabic history and tradition.
A fallen star, meaning a spiritual power of demonic nature, opens the bottomless pit and a smoke darkens the light. Arabia was a province of the Roman empire, with many Christian communities (as in the rest of the Empire) before the lifetime of Mohammed, but by his death, was Islamic. Mohammed claimed to have received Islam in a vision from an angel.
Next, a great swarm of locusts come from the pit, and were given power to sting like scorpions, but not to harm any green thing (which is not what literal locusts do; they 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.’” 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…”.
To be continued …
Update: continued in Revelation 9: the duration of the fifth trumpet