Verses 6, 7: Like watchmen on the wall the seven angels sound their trumpets, one at a time. At each blast another disaster lands on the earth. The first brings hail and lightening to such an extent that people and animals die (mixed with blood). Forest fires and prairie fires are ignited until a third of the planet is ablaze. Even if the earths atmosphere has already cleared from the disasters in 6:12-14, the concentration of this much smoke will darken it again. Its very significant to note that in each of the first four trumpets the damage done affects only one third of the earth, sea, waters and heavens leaving two-thirds unharmed. By limiting His wrath to only a part of the earth God is giving those who survive an opportunity to repent. Verses 8, 9: At the second trumpet, something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea... This could describe either an enormous volcanic eruption or an asteroid or comet. To actually kill all life in a third of the sea the asteroid/comet seems more likely, but whether or not either of these is the cause, the extent of the damage is not in doubt. A third of the creatures in the sea and humans in ships die.
Verses 10, 11: At the third trumpet a great star from heaven, burning like a torch... poisons a third of the sources of drinking water. The description of a star falling from heaven sounds even more like an asteroid/comet than the fiery mountain (v.8), but whichever it is, its effect is to release some type of poisonous contamination into the water sources. Given the polluted atmosphere and prevalent thunderstorms acid rain might be a strong possibility. The taste will be bitter like wormwood which is a bitter tasting plant that grows in the Near East. God giving people wormwood to drink has been used as a prophetic symbol of judgment starting with Moses (Dt 29:18). He warned Israel that anyone who served idols would bring sorrow and corruption into the midst of the nation and he used the phrase, a root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood. Jeremiah later warned those that practiced idolatry that God would feed...this people with wormwood and give them poisoned water to drink (Jer 9:13-15, also 23:15). This symbol is also used in Lamentations 3:15,19 and Amos 5:7; 6:12. So by giving the world wormwood and poisoned water to drink, God is calling people to repent of their idolatry.
Revelation 8:12, 13
Verse 12: At the fourth trumpet the time the sun can be seen during the day and the moon and stars can be seen at night is shortened by a third. How this happens is not explained, but one explanation might be that the air pollution has become so thick these celestial bodies cant be seen until the middle of the day for the sun, and the moon moves high into the sky at night. Verse 13: John sees an eagle soaring high above the earth and with a loud voice it warns the human race they will soon be afflicted with much more misery and sorrow. The word woe! is a cry of despair, so when the eagle announces that each of the next three trumpet blasts will bring another woe we realize there is far more suffering ahead than has already been experienced in the first four trumpets. And as we will soon see, the woes are also far more sinister in origin.
Revelation 9:1, 2
Verse1: The fifth trumpet begins the first of these woes. At the sound of the trumpet John sees a star which had fallen to the earth. Rather than watching a star fall to the earth as in verse 10, here he sees one which has already fallen. Then this star is given the key to the shaft of the abyss (literal Greek). Verse 2: The term star is used elsewhere in the Bible as a poetic reference to angels (Is 14:12; Jb 38:4-7; Dn 8:9,10; Rv 1:20; 12:4), and as the actions of this star unfold here it becomes apparent we are observing a conscious being rather than a lifeless celestial object. There is no statement in this passage that directly identifies this star, but the fact that it is some spirit or person that had fallen to earth points toward Satan himself. As well soon see in chapter 12 (Rv12:10) at some point during the tribulation he will be forcefully ejected from heaven and thrown down to the earth, and his angels...with him. These woes may be part of that event (Dn 8:9,10; Lk 10:18,19: Rv 12:7-9).
Revelation 9: 2,3
Verse 2(continued): If this star is Satan, then when he is thrown down onto the earth God gives him permission (key) to unlock a chamber which imprisons an enormous number of demonic spirits. These pour out of the opened abyss like a great column of smoke billowing upward. The Greek word which is translated as abyss means a place that is immeasurably deep, and in other passages it is identified as an abode or prison for demons (Lk 8:31; Rv 11:7; 17:8; 1 Pt 3:19, 20; Jd 1:6). Verse 3: John sees locusts emerge out of this column of smoke only these are not normal locusts. Normal locusts are an insect which attack growing plants. These are demons which attack humans. Centuries before Johns vision, the prophet Joel (835 B.C.) had warned Israel that someday the nation would face the innumerable hoards of an invading army if they did not repent (Joes 2:1-11). He compared that attack to a locust infestation. Like locusts, enemy soldiers would swarm over the land like a great cloud destroying everything so completely it would appear as if a fire had passed through.
Verses 3-5: Whereas real locusts alight on plants, these locusts pursue humans. They are equipped with stingers (v.10) like a scorpion meaning they have the capacity to torment people though they arent allowed to kill them. For a period of five months they torment until people wish to die. The only ones who escape their sting are those who have the seal of God on their forehead meaning they are true believers to whom God has given divine protection (Rv 7:3). This marking of the forehead was specifically applied to the 144,000 believing Jews (Rv 7:4-8), but we may assume that this same protection will be available to believing Gentiles as well. Ultimately the power of the seal to protect from demons can be nothing other than the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. And since His wonderful presence is in every believer, we can be confident all His followers will have this care.
Verse 6: This verse makes a strange statement. It appears to say that God will prevent people from dying during this five month period. Its not said whether the locusts sting is mental or physical Р whether people are in physical pain or mental and spiritual anguish. But whichever it is, and of course it might be both, the suffering will be so severe people will want to die to escape it, yet they will be unable to do so. This would mean suicide will also be unsuccessful. As a severe warning God will allow people to taste the torments of hell, yet He will not allow the demons to kill them, thus granting them the opportunity to repent. That horrible scenario awaits the sixth trumpet (Rv 9:15).