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Displaying items by tag: 5 months

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.

4  And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men who have not the seal of God in their foreheads.

5  And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when it strikes a man.

6  And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.

 

Part 2 - Revelation 9:4-6

 

*** The command not to hurt the green vegetation ***: Revelation 9:4 starts with a command. The locusts mentioned in Revelation 9:3, which came out of the pit, are ordered not to do what locusts do best: hurt the green and live vegetation. We saw the mention of grass, trees, and green things back in the first trumpet (Revelation 8:7 - study #52). In the first trumpet, God had allowed one-third of the vegetation to be burned up. Here, in the fifth trumpet, He is not allowing any green thing to be hurt. If there was any doubt that the trees, grass, and green things were a symbol for God’s people (Jeremiah 17:7-8), the end of Revelation 9:4 can remove it completely. In this verse, the ones without the seal of God stand in contrast to the grass, trees, and green things. The ones with the seal of God are protected during the attacks of the locusts, which we read about in the beginning of the fifth trumpet (study #57). On the other hand, the dead vegetation represents the ones without the seal of God and they can be hurt.

*** Not to be killed but tormented for five months ***: Verses 4 and 5 of Revelation 9 start in a similar way: “it was commanded” and “it was given”. These orders, stated in the passive tense, actually started in Revelation 9:3, when the locusts received scorpion powers. As we saw in study #57, God is the One who allows the enemy to show the world his own evil character. Just as in the story of Job, God places limits as to how far He will allow Satan and his angels to proceed with their demonic activities. During Satan’s first attack on Job, God set a limit. Satan could harm anything Job had, but he could not touch Job (Job 1:12). A series of calamities in Job’s life followed, particularly the loss of all of his possessions and all of his children. God was not attacking Job. Satan was. This is the case in this passage of Revelation as well. God is the One setting the boundaries, telling the locusts the sealed people of God are off limits. Beyond that, the people without God’s seal are not to be killed either, but they should feel the effects of the satanic activities for a limited time. The locusts could use their scorpion powers to torment the non-sealed people for five months. There are two interesting five-month periods mentioned in the Bible. The first one happened after Elizabeth conceived: she hid for five months. She was pregnant with John the Baptist, the man who would come and cry out in the wilderness “Make straight the way of the Lord” (John 1:23). In Elizabeth’s 6th month of pregnancy, Gabriel announced to Mary the conception of Jesus (Luke 1:24-27). The announcement of Jesus’ first coming came after a faithful woman was done being secluded for a period of five months. The other passage including a period of five months is in the story of Noah and the Flood. This event seems to be of great significance for the understanding of the five-month period in Revelation. Back then, the way that the Jewish people counted time and months, followed the lunar cycle. The months had 30 days, for a year of 360 days. Ever so often, they would have an extra month to compensate. The period of 150 days is a period of five months of 30 days each.

 

The Flood

The locust attack in the 5th trumpet

Springs of water broke from the deep, the rain poured and flooded the Earth, to harm the earth (Genesis 7:11)

Out of the bottomless pit, came locusts that would harm the earth (Revelation 9:2-4)

Noah, his family, and all the living things in the Ark were protected during the flood (Genesis 7:23)

Those who have the seal of God are safe from the locust attack (Revelation 9:4)

The pouring of the harmful waters lasted for 150 days (5 months) (Genesis 7:24; Genesis 8:3)

The torment the locusts will inflict will last for 5 months (Revelation 9:5; Revelation 9:10)

 

Just as we see in Genesis, the period of five months is mentioned twice in Revelation as well. Unlike the text in Genesis, the beginning and the end of the five-month period in Revelation is not well defined in terms of precise dates. This suggests that the specific knowledge of when the five months begin or end is not the focus. The point of the text seems to be on the fact that this is a temporary period. Like in the story of Noah, God’s faithful people in the time of the fifth trumpet will also be protected from the locust attack. After Jesus told His followers He watched Satan fall from Heaven (Luke 10:18), He gave them a special power: “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:19).

*** People will want to die, but they won’t be able to ***: The torment will be so severe during the five months that those without the seal will seek death. The state of mental stress would be so deep during this time, that people would actively wish to die. The text indicates that people would voluntarily look for ways to kill themselves, to end the suffering by their own powers. They would want to take matters into their own hands. To say someone would seek death is a very strong statement. This desperate state of mind reminds us of Job. He wished he could find death and end it all at once (Job 3:21). In fact, he wished he had never been born (Job 3:11-13). But is the text in Revelation speaking literally? Are the people looking for physical death? We must think about the prophetic aspect of all the trumpets. And when we do that, we realize there was never a moment in history when people were not able to die, be killed, or take their own lives. The torment in Revelation seems to be more significant on a spiritual level. The locusts are allowed to attack only the dead and dying vegetation, the people who do not have the seal of God. The “vegetation” under attack is already spiritually infected and afflicted (3rd and 4th trumpets). This means that this torment is a deepening of a problem they already had. Jeremiah 8:3 talks about how the people who are not part of God’s family prefer to choose death rather than life. It is so common to see people making poor choices in many aspects of life that are known to be detrimental. Complete spiritual death on a global scale at that point was not within the boundaries of God’s parameters.

*** Torment of a scorpion, when it strikes a man ***: In study #57 we saw that the locusts coming out of the pit had scorpion powers (Revelation 9:3). In Revelation 9:5, we understand that the torment the locusts inflict is that of a scorpion, “when it strikes a man”. Scorpions use their tails to insert venom in their victims. Oftentimes, scorpion venom is less than deadly to adult humans, with a few exceptions. But that doesn’t mean there is no suffering for the human involved. The demonic activities represented by the locust attack seems to be aimed at poisoning people at an intensity even greater than the one seen during the poisoning of the waters with wormwood (3rd trumpet, study #54). Isaiah 9:14,15 tells us: “Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, palm branch and reed, in one day. The elder and honorable, he is the head; and the prophet that teaches lies, he is the tail.” The tail of the red dragon, Satan, deceived a third part of the angels, as well as the whole world (Revelation 12:4,9). The “torment of a scorpion, when it strikes a man”, in Revelation 9:5, happens because of its tail, which is a symbol for false teachers, stinging people with false information and guiding them to a deadly path.

*** Overview ***: When the locusts came out of the pit and moved on to attack the Earth, God limited how far they could go. The locusts represent the satanic activities that aim to further keep people from reaching the Truth. Those who have already truly accepted the Truth are immune to this attack because they seek to be in constant connection with the Lord. Those who are not connected to God still feel the need to connect to something, and they encounter the scorpion-like tail of the locusts, which aim to torment those people with false teachings and philosophies that are contrary to God’s truth. This torture will go on for some time, but it will come to an end. The period of five months serves to remind the reader that the faithful people of God will not be harmed, just as Noah was protected inside the Ark. It is important that we remember: Noah still felt the Ark move and shake with the violent storm outside. God did not keep Noah from having the experience altogether, but He kept Noah safe as he lived through the Flood. If God is the One we serve, then we do not need to be afraid. The main message is: there is no space for the venomous tail of the enemy’s lies to attach to us when we are completely surrounded by God’s truth and protected by His seal.

   
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