Let’s read those interesting verses: “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” (NKJV). In order to understand these verses, one needs to read verses 1-10 where the “first woe” is described. Space forbids us from quoting the whole passage, so we will read key verses and offer brief comments along with them.

Verses 1-2: “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…the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke.” What or who is the “star fallen from heaven to earth?” In Isaiah 14:12 and Luke 10:18 Satan is said to have “fallen from heaven.” This will take place in the middle of the Tribulation Period as seen in Revelation 12:9, “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan.” God will then allow Satan to unlock the bottomless pit, which is the “prison house of demons” (see Luke 8:26-31; 2nd Peter 2:4 and Revelation 20:1 & 3).

Verses 3-6: “Then out of the smoke LOCUSTS came upon the earth…to them was given power…they were commanded not to harm the grass…or green thing…or tree…only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads…they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months…their torment was like the torment of a scorpion that strikes a man…in those days men will seek death and will not find it.” Are these LITERAL LOCUSTS, such as the plague of locusts in Egypt in Exodus 10:3-20? There are 4 reasons why they can’t be actual locusts: 1) Locusts don’t come from a bottomless pit; 2) Locusts don’t have a sting; 3) Locusts DO EAT everything that is green; and 4) Locusts DO NOT have a king (see Proverbs 30:27). The only real similarity to locusts in seen in the period of time they afflict men, for “five months” is the average life-span of locusts. We believe these are DEMONS who will possess men and bring torment to their minds, causing men to desire death but to no avail.

Verses 7-10: “The shape of the locusts was like horses…on their heads were crowns…their faces were like the faces of men…hair like women’s hair…teeth were like lions’ teeth…breastplates of iron…wings like the sound of chariots…tails like scorpions…stings in their tails.” Their appearance is frightening and seems to convey that they are STRONG, CONQUERING, INTELLIGENT, SEDUCTIVE, FEROCIOUS, IMPREGNABLE, SWIFT, and TORTUROUS.

Now we are prepared to consider who the “king over them” is. Many believe he is Satan, for he is called the “prince of demons” in Luke 11:15. Yet others believe it must be some other fallen angel since Satan won’t be consigned to the bottomless pit until Christ comes to rule (see Revelation 20:1-3) and thus he could hardly be called “the angel of the bottomless pit.” Whoever he is, we know that he is out to DESTROY men, for he is called “Abaddon” and “Apollyon” and both names mean DESTRUCTION. As we have seen, he will accomplish this by tormenting men’s minds, resulting in their desire to die.

After considering this “first woe,” it is most solemn to read in verse 12 “Behold, still two more woes are coming.” If one reads on you will see that every judgment from God is more severe than those that preceded it. If my reader is not yet saved, won’t you turn to the Lord Jesus Christ right now to be saved? Acts 16:31 declares, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” If you do, God will rescue you from these coming judgments as promised in Revelation 3:10, “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will KEEP YOU FROM THE HOUR OF TRIAL which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” (271.5) (DO)