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Study Guide: Revelation 9:1-12 - Opening the Abyss


Revelation 9:1-12

And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone. And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them.

In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth; they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle. They have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for five months is in their tails. They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon.

The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come. 


Main Idea: God unleashes evil and destruction on the unrepentant to display his glory and reveal his power.

 Summary: Revelation 9 begins with the trumpet sound of the fifth angel which marks the beginning of three woes on the inhabitants of the earth. John explains in descriptive detail  the terrifying locusts that are unleashed from the Abyss in order to torment the unrepentant for a period of five months. Though devastating for all those who oppose Christ, the first woe does not affect anyone who has the seal of God as a true believer.  


  • The abyss is the place of the underworld where demons and fallen angels were thought to be kept. Why is it significant that this was the place that was opened in order to terrify and torment the unrepentant? 

  • In Revelation 9:4-5 the locusts were given specific instructions on what they could do and not do.  What does this show us about the ultimate sovereignty and power of God?

  • It is clear from Revelation 9:4 that God placed his hedge of protection around true believers against the destruction that would come against the apostate.  Why should this observation serve as a great comfort to us? 


  • How does a true understanding of God’s sovereignty help us when we face hardship, adversity, or suffering? 

  • Revelation 9:6 describes people who are in such agony and torment that they would rather die than live. How should the depth of mankind’s depravity produce compassion and lead us to action?

  • Sometimes it can be unsettling to reflect on the justice of God against unbelievers. What are some specific ways we can worship and thank God for this aspect of his character?

Prayer: Give thanks to God for his sovereignty, power, and justice. Spend a few minutes praying specifically for anyone you know that has not yet placed their faith and trust in Christ.