V. THE FIFTH TRUMPET—THE FIRST WOE
The great tribulation may begin from the fifth trumpet because the fifth trumpet is the trumpet of woe and is close to the seventh trumpet.
A. Revelation 9:1
"And the fifth angel trumpeted, and I saw a star out of heaven fallen to the earth, and to him was given the key of the pit of the abyss."
This star cannot be interpreted literally like the star in 8:10 because the star here was given the key of the pit of the abyss. Who is this star? It is Satan himself. "A star out of heaven fallen to the earth." This corresponds with the casting down in 12:9. In the Bible, stars refer to messengers. Job 38:7 says, "When the morning stars sang together, / and all the sons of God shouted for joy." This clearly tells us that stars signify the angels in heaven. Since this star has fallen, it must not be a good star. It is he who transfigures himself into an angel of light for the purpose of deceiving others (2 Cor. 11:14).
All the three and a half years spoken of in Revelation begin at the same time and end at the same time. Revelation 11:2-3, 12:6-14, and 13:5 all happen at the same time. This star must fall before the start of the forty-two months (before the great tribulation) because it falls at the fifth trumpet. The seventh trumpet is also sounded before the start of the forty-two months.
B. Revelation 9:2
"And he opened the pit of the abyss, and smoke went up out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit."
The word "abyss" means "the depth." The abyss means the deepest pit. What is this abyss? It is the dwelling place of the devil. Luke 8:28 and 31 tell us that it is the place where the devil suffers. Because the devil is here, suffering is here. When the devil comes to the world, this world becomes the devil’s world. The falling of the star here corresponds with Luke 10:18, which was the verdict of the casting down of Satan. Here in Revelation 9:1 we have the execution of the casting down of Satan. While Satan is restricted, the pit of the abyss remains closed.
The smoke indicates that there is fire. It is difficult to say how the abyss is opened. Deuteronomy 29:23 says, "And that all its land is sulphur and salt, a burning waste; that it is not sown, nor does it sprout, nor does any vegetation come up in it; that it is like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, which Jehovah overthrew in His anger and burning wrath." The condition here is similar to the prophecy in Revelation 9:2. Concerning the "smoke," one can refer to Revelation 18:8-9, 18 and 19:3. In Revelation 8:12 the heaven lost one third of its light. Here in 9:2 it has become completely darkened. In the former case, it was caused by the diminishing of the light bearers themselves. Here it is caused by the darkening of the smoke.
C. Revelation 9:3
"And out of the smoke came forth locusts to the earth, and to them power was given, as the scorpions of the earth have power."
"Locusts." This kind of locust is not the ordinary kind of locust because:
(1) According to Revelation 9:4, these locusts do not eat the trees and the shrubs like ordinary locusts do. Moreover, ordinary locusts do not harm men, but these do.
(2) They have power like the scorpions (9:3), and their torment is like that caused by the scorpions (v. 5). From verses 7 through 10 we can tell that their appearance is very peculiar and not like the ordinary locusts.
(3) Exodus 10:14 says that there will never again be locusts like the ones that are there.
(4) Proverbs 30:27 says that the locusts have no king, but the locusts here have a king.
(5) They come out of the pit of the abyss. The abyss is not an ordinary dwelling, but the dwelling place of the devil.
These locusts are probably a kind of special creature. We can see this from the following:
(1) Revelation 9:3, 7, and 10 say that they have power like the scorpions and that they are like horses with tails like scorpions, and stings. Revelation 9:19 says that "the power of the horses are in their mouth and in their tails." Luke 10:17 through 19 says that the Lord has given the believers authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions. The Lord’s cross has pronounced Satan cast down. Revelation 9:1 is the execution of the casting down of Satan.
(2) They are possessed by the demons. This is why they are so special.
The earth was originally created for man, while the abyss is reserved for the demons. The word "deep" in Genesis 1:2 is translated by the Septuagint as "the immeasurable depth," which is the same as the abyss. This is where the demons live. On the second day, when God divided the waters which were under the air from the waters which were above the air (Gen. 1:7-8), some demons drifted to the air. Hence, the air also became the dwelling place of the demons (Eph. 6:12). The sea may be the entrance to the abyss. Revelation 20:13 says that the sea will give up its dead. It is one thing for death and Hades to give up the dead, and it is another thing for the sea to give up its dead. The dead in the latter case are the ones who died before Genesis 1:2. Romans 10:7 tells us that the Lord Jesus once went into the abyss.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 16: Study on Revelation, Chapter 6, by Watchman Nee)