Chapter nine actually begins in the last verse of chapter eight, in which a warning is given that the final three trumpets announcing God's judgment will be worse than the first four.
v1-11 - The fifth trumpet sounds, and with it a star falls to earth and opens the door to hell (It's likely this star represents Satan, as Jesus describes in Luke 10:18).
With all hell literally unleashed, terrible creatures resembling a cross between a locust and a scorpion.
Notice they don't kill anybody, but torture those "who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads (v4)," so much so that they "long to die, but death will elude them (v6)."
v13-19 - The sixth trumpet releases four angels who've been pent up for all of time until just the right moment.
They marshal a massive army riding monster like horses.
This army has been "released to kill a third of mankind (v15)." This is a terrible amount, of course, but notice that the destructive power is limited.
v20-21 - Even in the midst of the terror meant to warn people of God's impending wrath, people still refuse to repent and turn to their creator for salvation.
The sole purpose of these trumpets has been to announce God's coming judgment. As we saw a few weeks ago when we preached through these chapters (see below), many of these trumpets (especially the first four) have been sounding all through history since Christ ascended into heaven.
In other words, the events described in Revelation are not just what's in store for the future, but are things that have been, are now, and will be occurring.
The problem is that most people are so blind to the truth that they're oblivious to what God has been, is now and will be doing to warn people to repent and turn to Christ.
Rather than analyzing every news story for hints of elements that resemble giant locust-scorpions, or trying to figure out which current dictator's army will fulfill the task of killing a third of mankind, focus on the overall message of the trumpets announcing God's judgment in chapters 8 & 9:
The terrible events that occur come as announcements warning of even greater suffering when God's wrath is released;
God protects those who "have the seal of God on their foreheads (v4)." Even if God's people lose their earthly lives as the trumpets are sounded, their souls are immediately gathered to the Lord in heaven.
When understood correctly, even the darkest events in history can be seen as acts of grace, in that through them people are warned of even greater suffering in eternity. Be sure you are not like the people described in v20-21, who "still did not repent."
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE:
Proverbs 15:10–11 (NIV)
Stern discipline awaits anyone who leaves the path;
the one who hates correction will die.
Death and Destruction lie open before the Lord—
how much more do human hearts!
EYE FOR DETAIL— How are the horses' tails described in v19?
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our God who commands and controls power beyond our wildest imaginations
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will see the need for repentance in your life long before these trumpets are blasted (v20-21)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: