John watches as the “bottomless pit” is opened and demons pour out of a billowing smoke to invade the planet in a horrific demonic invasion at the sounding of the fifth and sixth trumpet judgments.
v.1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. And to him was given the key to the bottomless pit.
As the fifth trumpet sounds, John sees “a star” fall from heaven and given “the key to the bottomless pit.”
The “bottomless pit,” or more literally, “the pit of the abyss,” speaks of that place located inside the earth (Eph.4:9) now serving as the holding cell for all unsaved disembodied spirits (Rev.20:13-15). The “key” signifies the power and authority over the bottomless pit. In other words, what John sees is an exchange of power, but between whom, and why?
Foremost, we’ve already learned that Jesus is the One who possesses the key to Hades and Death (Rev.1:18). Therefore, the question is, to whom does He release it? We know that the star is no celestial particle, but clearly an entity, because John says, “And to him was given…” Moreover, given Satan’s evil intent to fully dispatch demonic forces upon humanity to hurt, injure, and destroy, it’s safe to conclude that the fallen star is Satan.
In other words, John sees Jesus give Satan the authority to unlock hell, and in turn to unleash demonic armies capable of invading this planet with a terror and destructive power unparalleled in the history of man.
v.2-4 And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like smoke of a great furnace. And 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.
The mere thought of all the forces of hell unleashed in the power of a volcanic eruption is ominous. Think about it: Demons long incarcerated inside the ancient tomb of hell, in a place they dread (Luke 8:30,31), will one day suddenly all be set free upon this planet like a stampeding horde of insanely brutal beasts.
Okay, but we should consider how this event might unfold.
Keep in mind that demons are warring spirits invisible to man (Eph.6:11,12), and only “signified” to John in this vision by the Holy Spirit. In other words, we can’t assume the world will see the demons described in this chapter, nor that their form is meant to reveal what demons look like. They are shown to John in hideous shapes and configurations only to signify their dreadful and ferocious nature. Moreover, their invasions will probably be considered “natural” occurrences to the world brought about by plagues, disasters, and war. As in all things spiritual, I don’t believe that unrepentant humanity in the time of the tribulation will comprehend the evil and destructive devices of Satan levied against them any more than they do currently.
This first wave of demons appears in the form of “locusts” (the Biblical symbol of a destructive enemy; Joel 1:1-7; 2:2-9; Nah.3:15-17). And each has the power to inflict pain upon man’s flesh equal in torment to the venomous sting of a scorpion. Their only restraint: Not to harm the grass of the earth, any green thing or tree, nor those men who have the seal of God on their foreheads.