Saturday, 01 April 2017 23:01

59. The fifth trumpet: forces ready for battle * Revelation 9:1-12 - Part 3 of 4

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7   And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.

8   And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.

9   And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.

10  And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.

 

Part 3 - Revelation 9:7-10

 

*** The shape of the locusts: After studying the first 6 verses of Revelation 9, it is clear that John is using the concept of locusts to represent satanic forces at work on the Earth. Over the past 2 lessons, we’ve learned who they are, and what they are doing. Revelation 9:7-10 gives us details on the appearance of the locusts. John uses a series of symbols to describe how frightening the swarm of locusts really is. It seems that John borrowed the general concept and language from Joel 2:4-10. It is possible that the strange description of the locusts is meant to be understood as a whole, as it portrays the terrible torment the locusts will bring about. But it is worth it to see what concepts we find in the Bible that can help us understand the nature of God’s enemy.

- Locusts like battle horses: Most often than not, in the Old Testament, horses are associated with an army (1 Kings 20:25; 1 Kings 4:26; Exodus 14:23; 2 Chronicles 1:14; Jeremiah 46:4). The swarm of locusts seems to be ready for battle. The locusts have been at war for a long time since it started in Heaven (Revelation 12:7-9), before Satan fell. We can see that locusts are in a spiritual fight against those with the seal of God. Revelation 12:11 tells us that the way to overcome evil and be victorious in this war, is “by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony”. These horse-like locusts are on a mission to hurt people and torment them with lies that can affect them spiritually. This can be seen as a contrast to the horses mentioned in the Seven Seals. When we studied the seals, we read that the first horseman had a conquering mission (Revelation 6:2). Horseman and horse went out to conquer for God, as a symbol of the Truth spreading out, as the Gospel was being preached throughout the World (study #38). The locusts coming out of the pit look like horses, but they are not the same horses found on God’s side. They are on an opposing mission, to spread false information.

- Heads like crowns: The Greek word for crown used here is the stephanos, which is the victory crown, not a royal crown. The Bible teaches us that we will receive the stephanos crown once Christ's victory is made clear, after He returns (2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 5:4). Also, the ones with the seal of God are seen wearing the white robe of victory only after they come out of the tribulation (Revelation 7:9). The locusts, however, have their own version of victory, different from what God says it actually is. In that sense, the locusts are deceiving the world with their impressive appearance. When talking about the tribulation, Jesus warned us about how false prophets would go to great lengths to deceive people (Matthew 24:24).

- Faces like human faces: This is not the first time in the Bible when God’s enemy is described as having human features. We read in Daniel 7:8,25 about the little horn power that has “eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things” “against the most High”. The satanic entities, represented by the locusts, appear to be like humans. On the other hand, “God created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:27). When God created man, God gave him life and a spiritual nature. The human face the locusts have makes them look like they also have a spiritual value that is worth something.

- Hair like women’s hair: In Bible analogies, the term woman is used as a symbol for the church, whether the woman is being portrayed as faithful or unfaithful (Jeremiah 6:2; Isaiah 51:16; Ephesians 5:25-32; see other bible references in study #20). The woman component in the description of the locusts suggests that the enemy also presents himself in a church form.

- Teeth like lion’s teeth: In Joel 1:1-12, we read about how the land was destroyed by locusts. But the destroyer was not an actual swarm of locusts. It was a nation that had lion’s teeth (Joel 1:6). In the book of Psalms, David used the imagery of teeth as a symbol of how people could fall prey to the lion’s lies (Psalm 57; Psalm 58). The lion's teeth suggest that the locusts also have government powers.

- Breastplates: The breastplate is a piece of the armor designed to protect the heart and other vital organs. In Ephesians 6:10-17, we read about the armor of God. We are told, in verse 14, that Christians should wear breastplates made of righteousness. God’s righteousness is what protects the heart of the believer against enemy attacks. The locusts in Revelation also have breastplates, but they are not made of a spiritual material. They appear to be made of iron. Going back to the little horn in Daniel 7, which had the features of a man, we see something very interesting. The little horn came out of the fourth beast, and it had “great iron teeth” (Daniel 7:7-8). Daniel used the imagery of beasts to represent kingdoms (Daniel 7:17). Based on the description of the lion from Joel 1:6, and Daniel 7:17, we see that the satanic activities described in Revelation 9 were, in a way, wrapped by a nation ruling here on Earth.

- The sound of the wings: Once again, we see a strong similarity between the fifth trumpet and Joel 2. Joel 2:5 says: “Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devours the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.” In Joel 2:4-5, we see that the war horses run and the chariots leap on the tops of the mountains. The verse in Revelation uses the word wings. Not only we have here the concept of an army running, but also of an army flying. Revelation 9:9 gives the reader the idea of movement, speed, and loud sound, as the locusts fiercely move in the direction of the war. They seem to be charging: “as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle” (Revelation 9:9).

- Tails: In lesson #58, we learned: “the prophet that teaches lies, he is the tail”, and he will be cut off from among the people of God (Isaiah 9:14,15). The poison of the scorpion is in the tail. Scorpions use their tails to inject venom in their victims. The focus of the symbolism here are the lies that are poisoning those who are not careful to protect themselves with God's truth. The military formation of these locusts tells us they are ready for battle, but their attacks on people happen on a spiritual level, through lying and deceiving. They are in the middle of a spiritual war.

*** The power to hurt for five months ***: The power of this bizarre horse and scorpion-like entity will afflict people with lies for a limited amount of time: five months. As we saw in study #58, this period reminds of some examples in the Bible, more specifically the story of Noah’s Ark (please see study #58 for a detailed explanation about the five-month period).

*** Overview ***: The army of locusts represent the demonic forces in attack formation. Their weapons are very dangerous: false teachings that can confuse people and lead them away from the true message of God. The attacks are only directed at the people who had not received God’s seal (Revelation 9:4). Those with His seal are immune to such attacks because once they know and live the Truth, they cannot believe any of the lies that are presented to them. There is still time for the people who dwell on Earth to repent and turn to God. The warning in the fifth trumpet must inform them of their vulnerability to the enemy’s attacks. It also serves the purpose to remind the ones with the seal of God about the strength they have against the enemy, through the blood of Jesus Christ.

   
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