The Fifth and Sixth Trumpet
The Bottomless Pit Opened (1-2)
The FIFTH TRUMPET sounds; a star falls to earth and is given power to unlock the bottomless pit (1). As it opens, smoke pours out from what appears to be a huge furnace. So thick is the smoke that it turns the air and daylight black (2).
Five Months of Torture (3-6)
This is not likely an actual anti-matter hole but a metaphoric hole from which moral destruction and chaos are released, much like the bubbling of all kinds of wickedness from the bottomless pit of man's wicked heart as referenced by Jesus in Mark 7:14.
From the smoke come locusts, and they are given the power of scorpions to sting and poison (3). Their power is limited; they do not touch vegetation, which locusts usually do, nor do they touch those with the seal of God (4). They are allowed to torment but not kill; their torment is so severe that men wish for death. This is the despair of a morally lost culture of folks who have sinned themselves into purposelessness and, as a result, are immersed in despair and hopelessness, having no wish nor will to live (5-6). This is the ultimate plight of a morally decadent and lost culture.
Locust Torturers Described (7-10)
John moves on to describing the creatures in greater detail: they have bodies of horses, faces of men, crowns of gold on their heads, hair long—they are death-devouring monsters. They are breast-plated and winged and sound like chariots rushing into war (7-9). Their tails have stingers, and they have the power to hurt those unsealed for a short time, which is five months (10). Many seek to make these images war machines, helicopters, and the like, but they are likely supernatural, and their torment is carried out in the minds, hearts, consciences, even in the imaginations of those bent on revolt against God. The horror of this pit is easily seen in the darkness of today's modern movies, but especially in the hopelessness and despair of the emerging generations. Moral decadence leads to a secret death-wish in the hearts who have been overcome by it.
The King of the Locust Tortures (11)
This army of torture, as released by any culture with a heart that is a bottomless pit of immorality, operates under the command of a king. Their king is a dark angel, and his Hebrew name means “place of destruction,” or in Greek, “the destroyer.” Five months represents the life cycle of locusts and also exemplifies how the destructive patterns human wickedness follows are limited to seasons and periods of time.
First Woe Ends (12)
Cultures who unleash such wickedness will live through this nightmare as the first of three woes.
The Third of Humans Killed (13-19)
The SIXTH TRUMPET sounds; a voice comes from the altar of incense (13) directing the angel with the SIXTH TRUMPET to release the angels bound at the Euphrates River (14). So the four angels who had been held back for a specific moment are released, and they begin to prune the earth (15). The number of the army is 200 million (16). In this vision, John sees the army as having the bodies of horses, the heads of lions, and the power of dragons (17). The fire, smoke, and sulfur coming from their mouths creates a plague and kills off a third of mankind (18). To make the beasts even worse, not only are their mouths filled with the power of fire, smoke, and sulfur, but their tails are like serpents, wounding people (19). The point made by John is that it baffles the imagination how much the human heart, in its depravity, can devise to inflict hurt on others. So in the fifth trumpet, moral depravity is released; in the sixth trumpet, the horror of war is released.
Those Who Survive (20-21)
Those who survive the tempest of this great beast, the devastating violence, do something almost unimaginable: they refuse to repent of their idolatry. They love what they have built; they love their demons deeply, even after such incredible horror. They, as Pharaoh, are so hardened that they are unable to repent. They continue on in their hatred, their drugs, their immorality, and greed (20-21).
A couple of things to remember: these trumpets do not sound in sequence, one following another, as we have said, but are sounding together. In the fifth trumpet, we see the foul stench of a defiled heart unleashing what appears to be a never-ending smoke of evil. From this smoke of evil comes a locust army tormenting the souls of humans. In the sixth trumpet, we find human evil becoming so massively bad that it forms ruthless armies, which will bring harm and death to defenseless people without shame. Here is the amazing point: even through all this massive human pain, people still love their idols and their works more than Christ and refuse to change their minds, hearts, and lives. This, in John's mind, is the sad state of evi—when God lets it fully bloom into its worst, and those not sealed by God refuse to change and receive Christ as their King.
The Book John Eats
We come now to that section in the Book that we could call a “parenthesis," which will run from here to Revelation 11:14. This is much like the interlude in chapter 7. In this “parenthesis" or “interlude," something very profound is going to happen: John is going to eat a book, and as he does, we will discover in John, and for that matter in us, that we are not mere bystanders, gawking at all the commotion taking place in the world; we have an essential part to play.
The Angel's Roar and Thunder’s Sound (1-4)
John sees a mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, the covenant rainbow overhead, face bright, and legs pillars of fire (1). This angel has a “little" scroll that is open; his right foot is on the sea and his left foot on land (2). This angel begins to call out with a loud lion-like roar, and as he roars, seven thunders are unleashed and sounded (3). The seven thunders are voices communicating something, but John is told to "seal up" whatever they are saying in his heart and not record their words (4). This angel, whose shout unleashes the seven thunderous voices of God, the one standing on sea and land, raises his right hand toward heaven in an act of representative form to declare that God is sovereign over the whole world. God is reminding us that for all to be fulfilled, God’s people must assume a prophetic duty. God is moving, and as we will see in the rest of the chapter, there is a need for His prophetic voice to be sounded in the earth. For reasons beyond our comprehension, the thunderous voice of heaven must be met with the prophetic voice on earth for God to do the creative and redemptive activity He longs to do.
The Angel's Announcement and the Completed Promise (5-7)
As John looks on, the angel raises his hand and swears to the absolute truth he is about to utter. The angel then states the truth: when the seventh angel blows the SEVENTH TRUMPET, God's secret plan to save the world will be completed; there will be no delay at that point. It will happen exactly like the prophets predicted (5-7).
John Eats Scroll and Is Commanded to Prophesy (8-11)
John then hears a voice from heaven—we assume God's voice—telling him to take and open the scroll from the angel (8). John goes and tells the angel to give it to him, and then the angel tells John to eat it. Once John eats the scroll, the angel tells him the scroll will be sweet to his taste but sour in his stomach (9). John eats the scroll and it is as the angel had said, both sweet and sour (10). John is then told to prophesy, which seems to be the reason God had brought him into His throne room and revelation in the first place (11).
While the symbolism of this chapter is incredible, let me, as I have all the way through my reviews, focus on the main issue instead of seeking to interpret all of the symbols. In order for God to fulfill His will and purpose on earth, words from God must be put in the mouth of prophets to be uttered on earth as a witness to God's truth. John was to take the scroll and eat it. As God's Word is sweet to the taste but sometimes bitter in the message, so was this word given to John within the scrolls.
While we wait for the seventh trumpet to finally blend in with the others and bring all to completion, prophecies are yet to be uttered. And as this chapter shows us, for a prophecy to have impact when uttered, it must be digested and become one with the prophet uttering it.