Revelation 9

The sounding of the fifth and sixth angels

Seven angels sound seven trumpets (Rev. 8-13)
The seven last plagues (Rev. 15-17)
Ten Plagues upon Pharaoh and Egypt (Ex. 7-12)
Hail and fire mingled with blood destroys 1/3 of trees and green grass
A noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast
Plague 7: The Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground.
Plague 6: Boils upon man and beast
Third part of sea became blood, killing 1/3 of sealife, destroying 1/3 of ships
The sea became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea
Plague 1: All the waters in the river were turned to blood, And the fish died; and the river stank
Third part of rivers and fountains of waters became bitter (wormwood). Many men die.
The rivers and fountains of waters became blood
Plague 1: All the waters in the river were turned to blood, And the fish died; and the river stank
Night and day darkened by 1/3 of sun, 1/3 of moon, and 1/3 of stars being darkened
The sun scorched men with fire. And men blasphemed the name of God
Plague 9: There was a thick darkness in all the land for three days
Smoke from bottomless pit releases locusts which torment men for 5 months with the sting of their tails
The beast and his followers gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed because of their pains and their sores
Plague 8: east wind brings locusts which destroy fruit and herbs
Plague 6: Boils upon man and beast
Euphrates River: Four destroying angels released to slay 1/3 of men. Army of 200 million horsemen kill 1/3 of men.
Euphrates River: Unclean spirits from the dragon, beast, and false prophet come like a plague of frogs to the battle of Armageddon
Plague 2: Frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt
Lightnings, voices, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail destroy them which destroy the earth
Voices, thunders, lightnings, and a mighty earthquake destroys cities. Islands and mountains flee. Great hail from heaven.
Plague 7: The Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground.
Plague 10: Firstborn of man and beast die
The comparison of these apocalyptic plagues to the plagues on Egypt in Moses' day is useful. Because of the description of Exodus, we have an idea of how these plagues occurred. They came not from destroying armies with elaborate weapon systems. They came as punishments from the Lord. Could there be a soul in Egypt who could explain away these plagues? Could anyone imagine that these destructions were not of the Lord?
This idea, that God is punishing mankind, is key. These destructions come not of the armies of men. Otherwise, the wicked would explain them away as part of the nature of man. Rather, these destructions come from God. Those who suffer, will know that God has great power, and "all things shall be in commotion; and surely, men's hearts shall fail them; for fear shall come upon all people." (D&C 88:91)

Rev. 9:1 I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth

"This metaphor refers to Lucifer, who is 'fallen from heaven' (Isa. 14:12). Jesus said, 'I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven' (Luke 10:18; Rev. 12:9)." (Donald W. Parry and Jay A. Parry, Understanding the Book of Revelation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 115.)
"The star had become evil and twisted, partaking too long of a poison so strong it could snuff out all light and turn a 'son of the morning' into the devil himself. John will have more to say of the fall of this great and terrible being in chapter twelve. For now, the Seer seems to have had the words of the Lord in mind, 'I beheld Satan fallen as lightning from heaven' (Luke 10:18, AT). Isaiah's imagery also holds:
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! 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: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit (14:12-15, KJV).
(Richard D. Draper, Opening the Seven Seals: The Visions of John the Revelator [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 100.)

Rev. 9:1 to him was given the key of the bottomless pit

"John witnesses Satan turn the key to unleash the very powers of hell upon an unsuspecting world. The predator's intent is to destroy the earth. From the onset of this millennial battle, John shows that Satan leads the hosts forth upon the earth. Before this, God overmastered the plagues through the destroying angels. From this point on, Satan personally directs the operations bringing the misery that fuels hell to the surface of the earth. The Seer reveals the Adversary at his worst-venting anger, frustration, and rage. The world will feel the full thrust of his fury.
"John sees the evil pour out of the pit in the abyss. Ancient writings show this place to be the abode of Jehovah's enemy and a kind of holding tank for fallen angels or even Satan himself. The key Satan uses to open the pit symbolizes power, authority, and ownership. But note, Satan does not own the key. He receives it. Once again, John reveals that someone acts behind the scenes, controlling and directing even the machinations of the Evil One. Ironically this potent one, for all his flaunted authority, cannot free the might of hell until God gives him the key. In this way John shows that Perdition's dominion starts and ends where the Lord dictates. Satan's limits are firm-he cannot go beyond them (Job 1:12; 2:6)." (Richard D. Draper, Opening the Seven Seals: The Visions of John the Revelator [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 101.)

Rev. 9:2 the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit

"Hell is opened and evil arises 'as the smoke of a great furnace,' blackening the air and hiding the sun's light. John seems to be describing darkness that 'pertains to Satan, his kingdom, his disciples, and their works. The devil is the perpetuator of dark and evil things (2 Ne. 9:9; Hel. 6:28-29).' The darkening of the air with evil is the result of Satan's work, for he is called 'the prince of the power of the air' (Eph. 2:2).
"New Testament scholar Richard Draper has written: 'As the pit is opened, smoke billows forth and obscures the light of the sun. Darkness reigns. Through this powerful symbol, John reveals the nature of the first thrust against mankind: a blow against the light.' The smoke, like the 'mists of darkness' in Lehi's dream, represents evil, darkness, and 'the temptations of the devil, which blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish and are lost' (1 Ne. 12:17). (Donald W. Parry and Jay A. Parry, Understanding the Signs of the Times [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 254.)

Rev. 9:5-11 they should not kill them, but... be tormented five months

Orson Pratt
The fifth angel will sound his trump, and an angel will descend holding the key of what is termed the bottomless pit, and he will open the door of this pit, and there shall issue therefrom certain terrible creatures called locusts. And it will be given unto them to torment men five months-the time which is to intervene between the sounding of the fifth and sixth trumpets, and during that time these awful creatures, such as neither we nor our forefathers, in all the generations before us, have ever seen on the earth, will torment the wicked. These creatures have wings, hair like women, teeth like lions, tails like scorpions, and with their stings they will torment the wicked for five months. But it will not be given unto them to destroy men, only to torment them. That will be a terrible judgment. They will have a king over them, whose name in the Greek tongue is "Apollyon," in other words the devil. He has power over them and with them, and commands these awful beings, and they go forth and torment the inhabitants of the earth, but are not permitted to kill them. Men in those days will seek for death, but it will flee from them, although they will greatly desire it on account of the terrible torment they endure.
When the Lord permits the devil to go forth and torment people he has considerable power. You can see this in the case of Job. When the devil stirred up the Lord to torment Job, the devil was permitted to go and strike Job with pestilence, with sore boils, and to make him feel sorrow, pain and distress. Said the devil to the Lord, "He will curse you to your face," and to prove whether he would or not Job was sorely smitten and afflicted; and so will men be afflicted by these awful creatures which will issue from the bottomless pit, and are under his command. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 15: 339 - 340.)

Rev. 9:7-10 Description of the Locusts

Gerald Lund
Let us just take one example of the world's attempt to explain a highly symbolical passage found in chapter 9 of Revelation. Under the sounding of the fifth trumpet, John saw a "star fall from heaven" and open the "bottomless pit" (Rev. 9:1-2). Out of the pit came a vast cloud of locusts which John says were commanded "that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months" (Rev. 9:3-5).
Note just a sampling of the scholars' attempts to explain what John saw. Adam Clarke, in the first half of the nineteenth century, wrote:
"Locusts] Vast hordes of military troops: the description which follows certainly agrees better with the Saracens than with any other people or nation, but may also apply to the Romans.
"As the scorpions of the earth have power] Namely, to hurt men by stinging them. Scorpions may signify archers; and hence the description has been applied to Cestius Gallus, the Roman general, who had many archers in his army. . . .
"That they should be tormented five months] Some take these months literally, and apply them to the conduct of the Zealots. . . . Others consider the months as being prophetical months, each day being reckoned for a year; therefore this period must amount to one hundred and fifty years."
Dummelow, another nineteenth-century scholar, did not believe they were men at all. He says, "from the smoke issue evil spirits with the appearance of locusts. They are not to hurt green things, for they are not really locusts." Merrill C. Tenney cites Mauro, who concludes that since trees are used elsewhere as symbols for human greatness or people of eminence (e.g., see Jer. 7:20; Ezek. 31:3), the "grass of the earth" (Rev. 9:4) would be the masses of common people. Clearly nervous about that interpretation, Tenney finally only ventures that the locusts "are really an invasion from another world of malicious embodied spirits whose mission is destruction."
One of the more creative attempts to explain the symbolism is by H. M. S. Richards, Jr., who equates Mohammed, founder of the Islamic faith, to the star that fell from heaven, and the bottomless pit to "the waste of the Arabian desert." He then goes on to explain the symbolism of the locusts:
"I have a copy here of the military command given to this great cavalry army by Abu-bekr, their commander, in a.d. 632, when they were on the verge of entering upon their invasions of Syria. He dispatched a circular letter to the Arabian tribes which reads as follows: 'When you fight the battles of the Lord . . . destroy no palm-trees, nor burn any fields of corn. Cut down no fruit-trees."
These are the acknowledged experts in the New Testament, and yet they still cannot come to a consensus of opinion. But, one asks, doesn't this very confusion disprove your statement that the book of Revelation was meant to be understood? No. What we are saying is that to the world it is a confusing book and that study alone is not enough to open its mysteries to our view. (Gerald N. Lund, Selected Writings of Gerald N. Lund: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 84.)
After so many have tried to explain the locusts described by John, it would be presumptuous for us to give a more rational explanation. Nonetheless, there are a few points worthy of discussion. First, it is not uncommon to hear some latter-day saints interpret these locusts as modern day helicopters, which fire missiles from their tails and make the noise of many chariots. Such an interpretation does not fit the rest of the description, for helicopters certainly kill men-not just torment them. They don't look like horses; they don't have crowns of gold or the faces of men; they don't have hair as the hair of women; they don't have teeth as lions.
Perhaps Joseph Smith can help us interpret the meaning. He wrote:
When the prophets speak of seeing beasts in their visions, they mean that they saw the images, they being types to represent certain things. At the same time they received the interpretation as to what those images or types were designed to represent.
I make this broad declaration, that whenever God gives a vision of an image, or beast, or figure of any kind, He always holds Himself responsible to give a revelation or interpretation of the meaning thereof, otherwise we are not responsible or accountable for our belief in it. Don't be afraid of being damned for not knowing the meaning of a vision or figure, if God has not given a revelation or interpretation of the subject.
...Everything that we have not a key-word to, we will take it as it reads. The beasts which John saw and speaks of being in heaven, were actually living in heaven, and were actually to have power given to them over the inhabitants of the earth, precisely according to the plain reading of the revelations. I give this as a key to the elders of Israel. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 291, 293.)

Rev. 9:10 their power was to hurt men

The scripture is quite clear that the locusts have power to hurt men but not kill them. We might look at other scriptural instances to determine how this might occur. If we assume that John saw locusts from the bottomless pit-a world of spirit-then these locusts may not be visible to the natural eye. Men would develop sores and boils which are severely painful and yet never see the spiritual locust by which they were stung. Job, for instance, was tortured by Satan's power, "So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown." Job never saw what hit him. He just took a potsherd with which he scraped his boils and sores and "sat down among the ashes." (Job 2:7-8)
Similarly, the ancient Egyptians did not see what hit them. Moses and Aaron, "took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast. And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians." (Ex. 9:9-11) Five months of torture like this and one can imagine why men sought an elusive death, "and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them." (v. 6)

Rev. 9:11 a king...whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek... Apollyon

Joseph Smith
In chapter 12, verse 9 [of Revelation], it reads, "That old serpent, called the devil," and it ought to be translated devil in this case, and not dragon. It is sometimes translated Apollyon. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 293.)

Rev. 9:12 One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter

Q. When are the things to be accomplished, which are written in the 9th chapter of Revelation?
A. They are to be accomplished after the opening of the seventh seal before the coming of Christ. (D&C 77:13)

Rev. 9:13 a voice from the four horns of the golden altar

"That the voice comes from the horns of the altar suggests that in some way the second woe is connected with or a result of the prayers of the Saints, for the voice that commands the infliction comes from the very place, the altar, on which their prayers were offered (see 7:3-4)." (Richard D. Draper, Opening the Seven Seals: The Visions of John the Revelator [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 107.)

Rev. 9:14 Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates

One of the thematic elements of Revelation is the destruction of Babylon. The Euphrates River is the area of ancient Babylon. The reference to the river would seem to indicate a destruction on those who were faithful to spiritual Babylon. They were idolatrous worshippers of devils, gold, silver, and brass (v. 20), "and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath." (Rev. 16:19)

Rev. 9:15 the four angels... prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year

The implication of this verse is that it took the angels much longer to prepare than to accomplish their task. It is also a clue as to the time course of this particular plague. The first four plagues could be accomplished in only a few weeks-much like the plagues on Pharaoh and Egypt. The fifth plague lasted 5 months, and the sixth is described as lasting quite a bit longer: over 13 months for the slaying of men, and 42 months for the siege of Jerusalem (Rev. 11:2-3).
Orson Pratt
There will be a period of at least five months, between the sounding of the trumps of the fifth and sixth angels. Read also concerning the sounding of the sixth trump, and you will find that there is a great work to be accomplished before the seventh angel shall sound... the sounding of the trumpets does not take place, as many have supposed, in rapid succession, but certain events have to be accomplished between their respective soundings. By and by the whole seven will have sounded, and then they commence to sound a second time (D&C 88:98-116). According to the revelation from which I have read, the second sounding of the trumpets is not to produce destruction among the nations, but the sound of the first one will reveal the secret acts of God, his purposes and doings on the earth during the first thousand years; the sounding of the second will reveal the doings and purposes of the Great Jehovah during the second time, and pronounce the work of God finished, so far as the great preparation needful for his second coming is concerned. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 16: 329.)

Rev. 9:16 the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand

Two hundred thousand thousand horsemen is a cavalry of 200 million. Such a large number has been a problem for interpreters. When the largest armies in the history of the world have been no larger 200,000 men, it is hard to imagine an army 1000 times larger. Accordingly, interpreters have suggested that the large number was not to be taken literally, "The numerical figure is likely symbolic, intended to represent great hosts of warriors." (Donald W. Parry and Jay A. Parry, Understanding the Signs of the Times [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 262.)
Perhaps an alternate explanation allows for a more literal interpretation of John's writings. After all, the Prophet's key for understanding the text is, "precisely according to the plain reading of the revelations." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 293.) If the four destroying angels lead a spiritual army of horsemen, then the size of the army is not problematic; neither is the elaborate description of horses with breastplates of fire, heads as lions, and power in their mouths and tails to destroy men with fire, smoke, and brimstone. The eyes of Elisha's servant were opened to see such an army, "he saw and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha." (2 Kgs. 6:17) Apparently, celestial armies do exist. The Savior declared he had them at his command, rebuking Peter, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matt. 26:53) Finally, the idea of a celestial cavalry is reinforced in the appearance of the Savior at the Second Coming. Modern artistic renditions fail to portray Him as John does, riding on a white horse, "clothed with a vesture dipped in blood... And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses." (Rev. 19:11-14) While the siege on Jerusalem is apparently from a human army (Rev. 11:2-3), there is no reason to assume that these 200,000,000 horses and riders are mortal.

Rev. 9:17 I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them

John is describing exactly what he sees. The imagery is difficult for us. We have never seen locusts with the teeth of lions nor horses with the heads of lions. Some wonder, "why couldn't John write in language that is easier to understand?" Well, imagine that you were privileged to see the Revelation John saw. Imagine again that the angel asked you to write what you saw. How would your description be any different than John's? Other than being less eloquent, it would still contain descriptions of strange locusts and strange horses. Why? Because that is exactly what John saw. He is not trying to hide the meaning of some eternal truth with symbolic language. He is trying to tell the reader what he saw in the vision.
Joseph Smith
The beasts which John saw and speaks of being in heaven, were actually living in heaven, and were actually to have power given to them over the inhabitants of the earth, precisely according to the plain reading of the revelations. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 293-294.)

Rev. 9:20-21 the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues... repented not

"As amazing as it seems, those that are not killed continue to worship the very forces that worked for their destruction. They refuse to give up their materialistic idolatry. Their hearts continue to crave gold, silver, brass, and other material objects that, as John points out, 'neither can see, nor hear, nor walk' (v. 20, KJV). Though their world is collapsing because of it, these wicked souls sell themselves as the lackeys of the Never-living and the Destroyer-doomed-to-destruction. Thievery, murder, and fornication, specifically prohibited in the ten commandments, all continue apace." (Richard D. Draper, Opening the Seven Seals: The Visions of John the Revelator [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 109.)