The fifth Angel trumpeted. I saw a Star plummet from Heaven to earth. The Star was handed a key to the Well of the Abyss.
He unlocked the Well of the Abyss - smoke poured out of the Well, billows and billows of smoke, sun and air in blackout from smoke pouring out of the Well.
Then out of the smoke crawled locusts with the venom of scorpions.
They were given their orders: "Don't hurt the grass, don't hurt anything green, don't hurt a single tree - only men and women, and then only those who lack the seal of God on their foreheads."
They were ordered to torture but not kill, torture them for five months, the pain like a scorpion sting.
When this happens, people are going to prefer death to torture, look for ways to kill themselves. But they won't find a way - death will have gone into hiding.
The locusts looked like horses ready for war. They had gold crowns, human faces,
women's hair, the teeth of lions,
and iron breastplates. The sound of their wings was the sound of horse-drawn chariots charging into battle.
Their tails were equipped with stings, like scorpion tails. With those tails they were ordered to torture the human race for five months.
They had a king over them, the Angel of the Abyss. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, in Greek, Apollyon - "Destroyer."
The first doom is past. Two dooms yet to come.
The sixth Angel trumpeted. I heard a voice speaking to the sixth Angel from the horns of the Golden Altar before God:
"Let the Four Angels loose, the Angels confined at the great River Euphrates."
The Four Angels were untied and let loose, Four Angels all prepared for the exact year, month, day, and even hour when they were to kill a third of the human race.
The number of the army of horsemen was twice ten thousand times ten thousand. I heard the count
and saw both horses and riders in my vision: fiery breastplates on the riders, lion heads on the horses breathing out fire and smoke and brimstone.
With these three weapons - fire and smoke and brimstone - they killed a third of the human race.
The horses killed with their mouths and tails; their serpentlike tails also had heads that wreaked havoc.
The remaining men and women who weren't killed by these weapons went on their merry way - didn't change their way of life, didn't quit worshiping demons, didn't quit centering their lives around lumps of gold and silver and brass, hunks of stone and wood that couldn't see or hear or move.
There wasn't a sign of a change of heart. They plunged right on in their murderous, occult, promiscuous, and thieving ways.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)