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Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them. The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They had hair like women's hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle. They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months.  And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon. One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things. Revelation 9:1–12.


The Protestant Reformation was definitely a prophetic moving of God to recall the visible church-at-large from total apostasy to the truth of the gospel. Unfortunately instead of just standing on the foundation of Christ and the Apostles, the Reformation churches chose to stand on a bottomless pit. They chose to become the religious arms of the governments of their countries. They devised their specific creeds, articles of confession, and catechism which in time obscured the word of God like smoke obscuring the sun. Out of this smoke came a swarm of locusts. These locusts are the multiplicity of different churches formed during the Reformation.


The Locusts


The locust is a ravenous insect that belongs to the grasshopper family. Dr. Barnes provides us with an interesting background on the locusts of the fifth seal:


And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth. That is, they escaped from the pit with the smoke. At first they were mingled with the smoke so that they were not distinctly seen, but when the smoke cleared away, they appeared in great numbers. The idea seems to be, that the bottomless pit was filled with vapour and with those creatures, and that as soon as the gate was opened the whole contents expanded and burst forth upon the earth. The sun was immediately darkened and the air was full, but the smoke soon cleared away, so that the locusts became distinctly visible.


The nature of the locusts from the bottomless pit is quite different than their natural counterparts. For one thing, they received power as scorpions. Locusts go after herbage but these locusts were told not to harm the grass, green things, or trees. Those things represent saved people that are not well established in the faith. Instead, they are told to harm only men that do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

Scorpions are arachnid creatures that are carnivores and prey on creatures called arthropods and even mice and lizards. They have stingers in their tails that can inject venom into a creature however they tend to use brute force rather than venom to kill their prey. Scorpions will sting humans when threatened. While the sting is painful, it is not lethal except in a few species of scorpions.

The locusts of the pit in their scorpion character were not allowed to kill the men that do not have the seal of God. Their purpose was only to torment them for a period of five months.

Under the sixth seal we learned that the seal of God is the revelation that Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of the world. The victims that suffer the harm of the locust-scorpions are those that do not have an experience of salvation. This could be unsaved people that were members of churches or it could be the masses of humanity outside the church. Unsaved people in the churches did have opportunity to hear the gospel taught and could respond and be saved. It seems more likely that those without the seal of God represent the unchurched masses. What we see here is that the Reformers and the following generations concentrated more on consolidating their doctrinal positions and establishing their identities in relation to the state that the unsaved masses were largely ignored.

Verses 5–6 paint a sad picture for the unsaved masses. “And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.” Having been cast aside as hopeless by the Roman church, Protestantism presented itself more as a people’s church. Those among the unsaved masses that were interested in salvation, or seeking the death of sin in their lives, found the Protestant churches deeply involved in establishing their creeds, solidifying their relationships with national governments, and disagreeing among themselves over issues of little significance. Death to sin fled from those among the unsaved masses and they were left out in the spiritual cold. To them this was torment, spiritual torture wanting to be saved from sin but ignored by churches that now had light on salvation but would not bother to reach out to them.


The Mystery of the Five Months


The five months are not the duration of the sounding of the fifth trumpet but lead to its end. In using the day for a year methodology commonly used in interpreting time symbols in the Revelation based on Ezekiel 4:4–6 we do find an interesting coincidence. There are different methods of calculating the days in 5 months. The most common method is using 30 to the month as did the Jews in Jesus’s time. 30 days times 5 months equals 150 days, or 150 years in time symbolism. However, a year has 365 days and months have 30 or 31 days except for February. Discounting January and February which total 59 days, the next 5 months have 153 days and the following 5 months have 153 days. It would not be unreasonable to use 153 days for the period of 5 months. Using 153 days to symbolize 153 years.

The first part of the Protestant Reformation involved churches breaking away from Rome, stabilizing their conditions within their governments and developing their creeds. At some point in time this came to an end. The last significant creed developed during the Reformation was the Westminster Confession in 1647. Adding 153 years to the year 1647 comes to the year 1800 which we suggested earlier for the beginning of the sixth seal.[1]


Description of the Locusts


Verse 7 describes the locusts that came out of the pit. We recognize the locusts as the swarm of churches that came out of the bottomless pit during the Reformation. The Reformation was definitely a work of God through which the truth of the gospel was restored to the visible church. The problem was that men built their own churches around this truth and called it the church of God.

The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. The visible church is represented as horses under the first four seals. Each of those horses had a rider, but only the first carried its leader Jesus Christ. Notice that there are no riders on the horses prepared for battle under the fifth trumpet. Initially the battle was the truth of the gospel against Rome and the pope. Eventually the battle became church identity against church identity.

The horses have crowns made of something like gold and their faces were like the faces of men. The crowns were not actually gold. The 24 elders in Revelation 4 wore crowns of gold which they cast at the feet of Christ signifying their worship and submission to Him. While the leaders of the Reformation did their work in worship and respect of Christ, the leadership that followed did not have the same burden and channeled their efforts into building their churches rather than the kingdom of God. This is why the locust/horses have faces like men; their churches became the churches of men rather than the church of God. Their hair was like women’s hair but they had teeth like lions. Appearing like a woman and professing to be the bride of Christ, the real nature of denominationalism that arose out of the Reformation was a roaring lion doing damage and not a submissive wife.

They had breastplates of iron. The breastplate protects the heart in battle and the true Christian breastplate is the breastplate of righteousness according to Ephesians 6:14. The creeds or breastplates of Protestantism were devised to protect the identities of the churches formed during the Reformation. God’s church wears the breastplate of a life made right with God and not just the teachings of a doctrinal system.

Their wings made the sound of chariots and many horses. These are the armaments of a human army and represent the human means by which churches were developed and progressed.

They also had stings in their tails like scorpions. As the Reformation progressed to its last prophetic five months it became more like the papal church it had left, thus making it difficult for people to see the true church and the real meaning of the gospel.

We find at the end of the sounding of the fifth trumpet that the swarm of new churches did in fact have a king, but the king was not Jesus, it was Abaddon, Apollyon. The name means destruction. What began as the move of God on the hearts of genuine and just men adopted the path of destruction that essentially nullified the gospel and again hid the identity of God’s church leaving true seekers of God disappointed and not knowing where to turn. Martin Luther, the man God used to start the Reformation in motion saw the very real possibility of this happening. He said in a sermon preached on May 1, 1525:


Christ our Lord warns us here as a faithful shepherd and bishop should, that we beware, so that, when the Gospel comes, that we hold firmly to it and not depart from it, though it cost our life and our treasures. For it cannot be otherwise, as the time passes than that there will be changes. Thus it will also happen with us. God be praised; we, as well as other cities, now have the Gospel in all its richness and purity, as men have never had it since the times of the Apostles. But as soon as we and others, who now assist in preaching it, are no longer with you, you will have other and false preachers, for they already begin to make their appearance.[2]




This is the first woe; two more follow. What is the WHY behind the failure of the Reformation? So much good was accomplished but what hindered the Reformation was the failure of the Protestant churches to be the church built by Christ. The creeds and confessions developed by the Reformation churches all contained articles on the church that are essentially sound.


Augsburg Confession 1530, Article 7.


Also they teach that the holy Church is to continue forever. But the Church is the congregation of saints [the assembly of all believers], in which the Gospel is rightly taught [purely preached] and the Sacraments rightly administered [according to the Gospel]. And unto the true unity of the Church, it is sufficient to agree concerning the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. Nor is it necessary that human traditions, rites, or ceremonies instituted by men should be alike every where, as St. Paul saith: “There is one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.”


Westminster Confession of Faith 1647, Chapter 25 (excerpts).


The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the head thereof; and it the spouse, the body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all. The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation as before under the law) consists of all those, throughout the world, that profess the true religion . . . out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation. . . . There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ.


Over 117 years between the first of the confessions and the last the essential truth of the church was clearly taught but the will and intent of the men leading those churches failed to live up to what they taught. The spirit of destruction loves to step in where the truth is taught and create a mess among people that essentially believe the same things but will not come together in unity and actually be the body of Christ, the biblical church of God.



JAN        31

FEB        28                           59 days 


Stop here and start over. This period is irregular because of FEB having 28/29 days. All other months have 30 0r 31 days.


Start over with regular months that have 30 or 31 days.


MAR      31

APR      30

MAY      31

JUN       30

JUL       31                           153 days


AUG       31

SEP       30

OCT       31

NOV       30

DEC       31                           153 days              


A regular five month period has 153 days. Prophetically 153 days is 153 years.




1517       The Reformation begins with Luther’s 95 Theses.


1529       First Protestant Creed. 67 Articles of Ulrich Zwingli.


1647       Westminster Confession of Faith. The last Protestant Creed.


1647       The last creed, Plus

 153        Five months of the Fifth Trumpet. The time of torment, Equals

 1800       Approximate date of the opening of the Sixth Seal.

[2] Complete Sermons of Martin Luther, Volume 2.2,  Baker Books: Grand Rapids, MI,  2000,  p.248