Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
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.CHAPTER 9
The remaining three trumpets have a “woe” attached to each. This is announced in the last verse of the preceding chapter, where the word angel should be “eagle.” An eagle, the bird of prey, proclaims the threefold woe. He acts thus as a herald of great judgments (Matthew 24:28, Revelation 19:17-18). The fifth trumpet is a special judgment upon apostate Israel: because those who suffer are they “which have not the seal of God on their foreheads” (Revelation 9:4). The great tribulation in the second half of the week, comes now into prominence. If we turn to Revelation 12:12 we read something similar to the eagle’s message of woe. “Woe unto the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”
Preceding the sounding of the fifth trumpet the eagle proclaimed the woe upon the inhabiters of the earth. The star which is seen fallen from heaven with the key of the pit of the abyss is Satan himself cast out of heaven. The details of this event we learn in the twelfth chapter. He has the key to the pit of the abyss, the same word “deep,” used in Luke 8:31. “And they (the demons) besought Him that He would not command them to go out into the deep (abyss).” He unlocks the prison house of the fallen angels and the most awful satanic agencies come forth to begin their “dread” work of torment. The smoke first, symbolical of darkening; the locusts next, symbolical of these demon powers. Awful darkness prevails and the most diabolical delusions, producing fearful torments among apostate Israel and the inhabiters of the earth. It is the time of the strong delusion (2Thessalonians 2:4-11) which has come. And over them is a king. His name is given in Greek and Hebrew, showing that it is both Jew and Gentile that come under His power. Both names mean destruction.
The sixth angel is commanded by a voice from the horns of the golden altar to loose the four angels who are found at Euphrates, and as a result an innumerable company of horsemen is released. (Greek: twice ten thousand times ten thousand, that is, 200 million. The number would indicate the immense, uncountable hordes.) They are prepared for a specific time to do their work. Euphrates is once more mentioned under the pouring out of the sixth vial. We believe the sixth vial judgment gives the key to these horsemen here. Euphrates does not mean the Turkish Empire, as we shall more fully show when we come to the sixth vial. This river was both the boundary line of the old Roman Empire and the land of Israel. Restraining influences held back the tide of nations on the other side of the river, this restraint is now removed and therefore a great invasion takes place. As the land of Israel is nearest it will suffer first, but the revived Roman empire will be the objective of these invading hordes. The “third part” stands for the Roman Empire, the coming European confederacy. This invasion is under the king of the north. It is seen in its beginning here and is consummated under the sixth vial. There the “kings of the sunrise” are included. And under the sixth vial they are more specifically gathered for the great day of God Almighty.