Verses 7, 8: Like Joel (Joel 2:4) John compares the appearance of these locusts to horses, but the horses John sees are a bizarre composite of different features. They have crowns on their heads, faces like men, hair like women and teeth like lions. Why even a demon would look like this is a mystery, unless these features are meant to be symbols that reveal various capacities. If symbols, the crown would speak of authority, mens faces would identify them as rational beings rather than mere insects, the hair of women might imply that they are attractive thus drawing people to worship them (9:20) and the teeth of lions would describe their vicious power over their prey. Verse 9: By possessing breastplates of iron and by sounding like chariots rushing to battle were told that these demons will be an overwhelming force that cant be defeated by any human agency.
Verse 10: As we noted earlier (vs 3-5) these locusts alight on humans rather than plants. Like scorpions they are able to attack humans and hurt them (Lk 10:19). Verse 11: In case any doubt remains that these locusts are demons rather than insects this verse tells us they are members of Satans kingdom. Several titles are used to identify him: the angel of the abyss, Abbadon, which is a Hebrew word meaning a place where people perish, and Apollyon which is a Greek name meaning one who destroys. He is their king, and they are his minions. His rulership over these fallen angels and their participation with him in these woes is further described in Revelation 12:4, 7-9. Verse 12: In summary, the first woe appears to occur after Satans removal from heaven (Rev 12:7-9). Cast down from heaven he is allowed to flood the earth with his demon hosts. Even those which had been previously confined to the abyss are released. Like an infestation of locusts this army swarms over the earth tormenting unbelievers until they long to die. In this way God seems to be giving the earth a foretaste of hell with the hope that the prospect of living with such monsters for eternity will induce people to repent. If this werent bad enough, two more woes are still coming.
Verses 13-15: The sixth trumpet is also the second woe. As this angel sounds John hears a voice from the altar of incense (Rev 6:9; 8:3, 4) commanding the angel with the trumpet to release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates. Were then told the timing of their release had been foreordained by God down to the hour and day and month and year. Once released they will kill a third of humans still alive (6:8). Obviously these are evil angels who have been imprisoned at a site along the Euphrates River to prevent them from carrying out this terrible destruction earlier. By contrast, good angels dont have to be imprisoned to stop them. They need only to be commanded by God to withhold (7:2, 3).
Revelation 9:16, 18
Verse 16: These four angels appear to be commanders of huge demonic armies. Upon release they lead a combined army of 200 million who ride across the earth spreading death. Verse 17: The army John sees is composed entirely of horsemen, each wearing a breastplate marked with three symbolic colors: fiery red, smoky blue and sulfurous yellow. The horses they ride are not peaceful creatures but have lion-like heads. They are vicious carnivores. Then to further emphasize their menacing appearance, fire, smoke and sulfur pour out of their mouths. Verse 18: One third of the remaining human population is killed by this demonic army when fire, smoke and sulfur pour out of the horses mouths. These three elements (fire, smoke and sulfur) remind us of Gods catastrophic destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Ge 19:24, 28). Fire and sulfur (brimstone) rained down on the cities while smoke billowed up in great columns. However, its not clear whether or not John intends us to take these three symbols literally because he also refers to them as plagues which would mean they were deadly contagious diseases rather than physical disasters. Whichever is the case the effect on a large portion of the human population is the same: death.
Verse 19: The fifth trumpet released locusts that looked like horses and had tails that stung like scorpions. The sixth trumpet releases horses with heads like lions and tails like serpents. The main difference between the two, beside details of appearance, is that at the fifth trumpet people were tormented but unable to die, while at the sixth trumpet a third of humanity is killed. Verse 20: One would think that those who survived the fifth and sixth trumpets (first and second woes) would have seen all they wanted of demons and would gladly repent, but this verse reports that no one did. Instead they turned more fervently to the worship of demons and the idols that represent them. Verse 21: Amazingly the experience of these judgments did not cause unbelievers to change their attitudes or behaviors. They continued practicing magical arts, sexual immorality, and theft. By this point in time those humans who have refused to repent have so hardened their hearts nothing can provoke them to turn to God, so His attempts to evangelize them will soon stop and Hell pour out on them the wrath they justly deserve.
Revelation 10:1, 2
Verse 1: Here there is an abrupt change of direction in Johns visions. He sees a strong angel descend from heaven shining brilliantly with light. Verse 2: This angel is so large he can stand with his right foot on the sea and his left on the land, and in his hand he holds a small open book. The fact that he is clothed with a cloud (v 1) (literally: wrapped around) reminds us of the angel of God who led Israel through the wilderness during the Exodus. In certain passages Moses called the One who led them in the cloud the angel of God (Ex 14:19) but in others he identified Him as the Lord (Ex 13:21; 14:24). Elsewhere in the Book of Revelation angels are described as wearing linen robes with golden sashes (Rev 15:6) so clouds were not their normal garments. So the fact that this strong angel is seen wrapped in a cloud with glory radiating like a rainbow from His head and having feet like pillars of fire (Rev 1:15) means John was most likely seeing Jesus Himself.
Verse 2 (continued): In His hand Jesus holds a little book, which is not identified so we can only speculate as to its contents. It does not appear to be the same scroll which the Father earlier held in His hand (Rev 5:1). That scroll contained so many words it had on both sides, while this one is specifically identified as a little book. The best clue as to its contents is found by reading what John prophesies after he eats the book (Rev 10:10, 11), and at least initially (Rev 11, 12) his focus turns to events in the land of Israel. When the seals were opened on the larger scroll the antichrists kingdom expanded. When the trumpets were sounded the entire world was warned to repent. But when John eats the little book he prophesies about Israel. Many promises concerning Israel remain unfulfilled (See: Isaiah 60-66; Jeremiah 30:31, 33; Ezekiel 33-48; Daniel 7-12; Joel 2:28-3:21; Amos 9:11-15; Micah 7:11-20; Zephaniah 3:11-20; Zechariah 12-14; Malachi 4). At the heart of most of these passages is a promise that someday the Son of David will come to the nation of Israel and they will receive Him and He will deliver them from their enemies. John describes how this happens.