(9.1)    And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.

1.   Read Revelation 8.13 with me again: “And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!” From this verse, we see that this fifth trumpet blast is also the first of the woes to befall the unsaved portion of mankind that was warned in Revelation 8.13. Some of you might remember, from your readings in Exodus, that certain of the plagues that befell Egypt afflicted everyone, while a number of the last ones afflicted only the Egyptians, leaving the Israelites untouched. Such is what I believe we have here.

2.   When the trumpet sounded John saw something. We read that John saw a star fall from heaven. Jack Hyles, in his little book entitled “Let’s Study Revelation,” says that the word translated “fall” should be translated “fallen” instead. Examining the Greek New Testament, we see that the Greek word pepwkota is what is called the perfect tense, referring to past action with continuing results.[1] Literally then, John indicates that he saw something that had already fallen from heaven. The word “fall,” being a perfect participle, means that the action had been completed when John saw it.

3.   What John gazed upon was a fallen star, which had fallen from heaven to earth. Now, look at the verse again very closely. We know that John is not referring to a literal star falling because, in the same sentence and referring to the same star, John tells us that “to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.”

4.   Since keys cannot be given to inanimate objects, this star must be some kind of intelligent being. Thankfully, the Bible gives us some clues regarding the identity of this creature. Read some verses with me that refer to an intelligent being falling from heaven:

Isaiah 14.12-14:

12    How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

13    For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

14    I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

Luke 10.17-18:

17    And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.

18    And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

Revelation 12.7-9:

7      And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

8      And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

9      And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

5.   The star that John refers to here can be none other than Satan. There are two options to consider when seeking to understand precisely what John is referring to here: Option #1, John is referring to Satan being cast out of heaven because of his sin, way in the distant past. In terms of chronology, this actually occurred before the Fall of Adam and Eve into sin. Option #2, John is referring to Satan being cast down to the earth some time after the Rapture, after being defeated by Michael, the archangel.

6.   To this point, let us recognize that either option is hypothetically possible. How can this be? Satan was, indeed, cast out by God, along with one third of the host of heaven, who followed him in his futile rebellion against God. Job chapters 1 and 2, however, shows us that God periodically demands an accounting of Satan, even in his fallen condition.

7.   We will see which of these two options is correct as our study of the Revelation continues. To avoid being caught up in speculation, focus on what John seems to be directing our attention to. Satan will be given the key to the bottomless pit.

8.   We remember, from Revelation 1.18, that the Lord Jesus Christ claims to have thethe keys of hell and of death.” Absent any other evidence, we would rightly suspect that the “key of the bottomless pit” would also be under His control, and that He is the One Who gave the key to Satan. So, the first woe occurs when the Lord Jesus Christ, at the sound of the trumpet, gives the key to “the bottomless pit” to Satan.

9.   The reason I attribute this giving of the key to the Lord Jesus Christ is because Greek grammarians refer to the giving of something in such a case as this, wherein the one who does the giving is not named, as a theological or a divine passive.[2] Others would interpret this as meaning God gives the key to Satan.

10. Important to note is that this key which will be given is the key to the “bottomless pit.” What is the “bottomless pit”? The word translated “bottomless pit” is the Greek word abussoV, which literally means “an immensely deep space.”[3] Interestingly, it is also the place where Jesus went, according to Romans 10.7: “Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)” The word “deep” in that verse being our same word, abussoV.

11. If you are a bit confused, remember two things: First, Hell more properly describes a state of being dead than a geographical location. The “bottomless pit” is a better term for describing where the unsaved dead now are, and where many fallen angels are, and where Jesus went for three days and nights before His resurrection. Second, in the absence of any distinction between the geographical location where lost people die when they enter eternity, and what spiritual state they are in when they enter eternity, the word Hell is generally used. But if you want to be specific and distinguish between the location of some unsaved person has died and the spiritual state of some unsaved person who has died, you would use the term “bottomless pit” to refer to location and the term Hell to refer to his state of being.

12. “That there is a passage from the earth to its heart not only is indicated by Scripture, but what believed by the ancient Greeks, and is today known by the followers of Satan.”[4] That Satan will someday be given the key to open that accessway to the bowels of the earth, where the “bottomless pit” is, where those who are experiencing what we call Hell abide, will be a fearful thing for mankind.

[1] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 831.

[2] Rienecker, pages 831-832.

[3] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 2.

[4] William R. Newell, The Book Of The Revelation, (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1935), page 128.

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