Rev. Mark H. Creech
Revelation Chapter 9: The pit, the smoke, and hideous demon creatures
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By Rev. Mark H. Creech
February 25, 2023

In the spring of 1994, the Associated Press reported that Sweden’s defense ministry determined a Soviet submarine had violated Sweden’s territorial waters. High-tech buoys had detected suspicious noises, which prompted their military to start a submarine hunt in the Baltic Sea.

This wasn’t the first time the Swedes felt they had reason to be concerned. Once, a Soviet submarine had run aground near a naval base in Sweden, and ever since; they had been suspicious of Soviet intrusions.

But the hunt the Swedes launched didn’t turn up any lurking Soviet submarines, and a year later, the Swedes made an embarrassing admission. The noise they had picked up from their high-tech buoys turned out to be minks and other mammals splashing in the water while searching for food. Minks are approximately the size of a cat and plentiful in Stockholm’s islands.

When it comes to our enemies, fears, and anxieties, we can become victims of a runaway imagination. Still, we must be astute and careful. Evil exists in the world, and it isn’t wise to dismiss it.

For instance, The Devil and demons actually exist. Behind the scenes, beyond the reach of human senses, they diligently endeavor to deceive, destroy, steal, and kill. Demons are spiritual entities of great might, power, and various ranks and orders. Like their leader, Satan, they hate humanity because humankind is made in God’s image and is the apple of his eye.

C.S. Lewis noted at the top of the Screwtape Letters: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”

So, the content of Revelation Chapter 9 should be approached with wisdom and an even hand. What is foretold is beyond fantastic, but to interpret it allegorically rather than literally does violence to the text and diminishes other clear teachings of the Word of God.

In Wilmington’s Guide to the Bible, Harold Wilmington writes: “The ninth chapter of Revelation, which contains both fifth and sixth trumpet judgments, may be the most revealing section in all of the Bible concerning the subject of demonology.”

The Scriptures reveal that originally the Devil and demons were good angels in the service of God, but they sinned. It is not clear when they sinned. Nor is it clear what sin they committed, only that pride and disobedience were at the heart of their rebellion.

The Bible reveals that some demons are free to carry out the Devil’s purposes. In the Gospels, Jesus is recorded as having cast out demons from people’s bodies. These wicked disembodied spirits can possess people to express themselves and torture their host (Matthew 17:15-18; Luke 8:26-39). Moreover, they are at liberty to influence human events, though limited by God.

Other fallen angels, or demons, appear to be in a higher and even more dangerous category, bound and chained. 2 Peter 2:4 says of these demons, “For God did not spare even the angels who sinned. He threw them into hell, in gloomy pits of darkness, where they are being held until the day of judgment.” Jude 6 says of them, “And I remind you of the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority God gave them but left the place where they belonged. God has kept them securely chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the great day of judgment.”

Revelation chapter 9 warns us that this more threatening order of demons will be unchained in the end, during the last days of the Tribulation period, and they will torture humans with excruciating and unrelievable pain. These beings are hideous by nature and appearance – perverse with locust-like wings to cover the earth in flight, and scorpion-like tails to wound. Verses 1-12 read:

“Then the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen to earth from the sky, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. When he opened it, smoke poured out as though from a huge furnace, and the sunlight and air turned dark from the smoke.

“Then locusts came from the smoke and descended on the earth, and they were given power to sting like scorpions. They were told not to harm the grass or plants or trees, but only the people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were told not to kill them but to torture them for five months with pain like the pain of a scorpion sting. In those days, people will seek death but will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them!

The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. They had what looked like gold crowns on their heads, and their faces looked like human faces. They had hair like women’s hair and teeth like the teeth of a lion. They wore armor made of iron, and their wings roared like an army of chariots rushing into battle. They had tails that stung like scorpions, and for five months, they had the power to torment people. Their king is the angel from the bottomless pit; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon—the Destroyer.”

The star that falls to the earth from the sky is not a literal star in this case, but most likely the Evil One (the Devil) himself. Isaiah 14:12 references Satan, saying: “How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world.” Jesus once said, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning!” (Luke 10:18).

This fallen star is given a “key to the shaft of the bottomless pit,” which God permits him to open, and from the abyss, there comes a billowing black smoke so thick it obscures the light of the sun and chokes the air with its pollution. Then, in a scene of dread greater than any generation has witnessed, creatures of unspeakable description materialize.

“There are eight parts to the description,” says Charles C. Ryrie in his commentary of Revelation. It “begins with the head and progresses back to the tail of these creatures. Overall, they are like horses prepared for battle [meaning they are ready to make war on humanity] (cf. Joel 2:4). On their heads were what appeared to be ‘crowns like gold.’ Their faces were ‘like the faces of men,’ their hair ‘like the hair of women,’ their teeth like those of lions. They had breastplates ‘like breastplates of iron,’ and the sound of their wings was like chariots or horses going to battle.”

Interestingly, the word translated as “pit” indicates an actual entrance from the earth’s surface, unbeknownst to mortals, leading to our planet’s marrow.

IFL Science published an article about the Kola Borehole in Russia two years ago. This bottomless-like hole was one of the projects during the Cold War when the United States and Russia were “peacocking” – trying to prove their “scientific, militaristic, cultural, and technological” superiority. The hole the Soviets dug was as deep as the height of Mount Everest and Mount Fuji placed on top of each other.

In the early 1960s, the Americans were also digging in the seabed via a ship in the Mexican Pacific. Eventually, the Americans ended their project because of complications. But the Soviets kept going until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992. Their site lies abandoned today.

However, the article concludes that a drill broke through a rock layer before the project ended and discovered a superheated cavern. It was said that researchers wanting to investigate further dropped a microphone into the pit and, to their great surprise, heard what sounded like the infernal wailing and screaming of the damned in hell. Scientists were said to be so shaken they left the undertaking. This is why the Kola Borehole is called the “entrance to hell.”

Is it the entrance to hell? IFL Science claimed the story was an “urban legend” and “unverified nonsense.” They may be right. Nevertheless, of one thing we can be sure, the Bible refers to a place in the earth called the “bottomless pit” no less than seven times in the book of Revelation (Revelation 9:1,2,11; 11:7; 17:8; 20:1-3). It is a literal place of such terrible horrors that even the evil spirits Jesus cast out of the Gerasene Demoniac begged him to send them into a herd of swine instead of to the “abyss” or the “bottomless pit.” (Luke 8:26-39)

These abominable beings from the pit, led by Apollyon, likely a fallen archangel, emerge from the pit’s smoke and are not allowed to assault earth’s vegetation. Neither are they permitted to injure those with the seal of God. However, they are authorized by God’s wrath to torture those who hate and reject him. They may torture them for up to five months with something akin to a scorpion’s sting – a sting so intense its victims will want to die but cannot.

J.A. Seiss, in The Apocalypse, writes, “The pain from the sting of a scorpion, though not generally fatal, is, perhaps, the most intense that any animal can inflict upon the human body.”

How mind-boggling!!! How chilling!!! And this is only the first woe. Two more are to follow.

Indeed, all of this from Revelation chapter 9 may seem utterly ridiculous to many – something borne from extreme fears and anxieties – the product of a wild and runaway imagination. Nevertheless, the reality of demons and their power is real.

The good news is everyone who has trusted in Christ alone for the forgiveness of sins, the salvation of their soul, is already a victor over the Evil One and his minions. Because Christ overcame the Devil by his life, death, and resurrection, believers are also victorious. No devil, great or small, has any authority over the believer.

Thus, the call of God cannot be emphasized enough in these commentaries. Repent of sin, turn to Christ in faith, and be saved. If you don’t believe now, you will. By that time, it may be too late.

© Rev. Mark H. Creech

 

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Rev. Mark H. Creech

Rev. Mark H. Creech is Executive Director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc. He was a pastor for twenty years before taking this position, having served five different Southern Baptist churches in North Carolina and one Independent Baptist in upstate New York.

Rev. Creech is a prolific speaker and writer, and has served as a radio commentator for Christians In Action, a daily program featuring Rev. Creech's commentary on social issues from a Christian worldview.

In addition to RenewAmerica.com, his weekly editorials are featured on the Christian Action League website and Agape Press, a national Christian newswire.

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