Focal Passage: Revelation 9:1-12
John opens up chapter nine by sharing with us what is found when the fifth trumpet is blown. He shows an army of locusts, the actions of the locusts, the appearance of the locusts, and the angel of the locusts. Yet, these are no ordinary locusts but rather demons on a mission. As John describes these various things, one thing stands out. It is that God is in control. He determines when it happens, why it happens, how it happens, and how long it happens. There is great comfort in knowing everything that happens in this world, both now and in the future, are controlled by God the Father.
John introduces us to the army of locusts (v. 1). He tells us where they came from. They are let out of the abyss after an angel (star) unlocks the shaft of the abyss. This angel was given the key to the abyss from God the Father. First smoke poured out of the shaft and in the midst of the smoke the army of locusts arrived. Then John tells what they were to do. They were to administer the judgment of God through painful torment. John shares they were to do this for five months. This probably means a short time period rather than actual months. Those tormented were going to get a sample of what torment feels like before they experience it forever unless they repent. Verse 4 lets us know they are after unbelievers because believers are protected from this act. The believers had God’s seal on their foreheads. This reference of God’s seal brings to mind the 144,000 who were sealed in chapter 7. There are different views as to who these 144,000 are, but there is no doubt they are protected.
John in verse 5 speaks of the actions of the locusts. They are to torment unbelievers but leave the sealed believers alone. What was the purpose of this action? One of the main purposes was to cause unbelievers to repent. They would rather die than repent and be relieved of their misery as stated in verse 6. Why could they not die? The reason being if they died then any hope of repentance was extinguished by their death.
Verses 7-10 detail for us the appearance of the locusts. They were like horses with golden crowns on their heads. This speaks of their might and power. Their faces were like mens’ faces speaking of their ability to think, reason, and know how to act strategically. Hair, like womens’ hair, might be a reference to their ability to charm and lure the unbeliever into their torment. The mention of lion’s teeth conjure up pictures of fierce pain and mayhem. The breastplates of iron symbolize their invincibility and, their task could not be stopped. The sound their wings produced would cause dread upon their enemy just as the rumbling of a mighty army about to invade a city. John mentions one more time in verse 10 that they had tails like scorpions. This time he adds the word “stingers” to emphasize the torment they would produce.
John introduces us to the angel of the locusts in verses 11-12. Some have seen this angel as the same angel from verse 1 while others see this angel as Satan or some high-ranking demon. This king is responsible for bringing torment and judgment upon unbelievers. His name is given in both Hebrew and Greek. Both names mean “Destroyer.” Yet, in spite of his name, God will not allow him to destroy but only torment the unbelievers. Why? Because there is more to come. John ends verse 12 by sharing there are still two more woes to come.
— Styers is pastor of First Baptist Church, Grand Junction.