“The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. They had what looked like gold crowns on their heads, and their faces looked like human faces. They had hair like women’s hair and teeth like the teeth of a lion. They wore armour made of iron, and their wings roared like an army of chariots rushing into battle. They had tails that stung like scorpions, and for five months they had the power to torment people. Their king is the angel from the bottomless pit; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon—the Destroyer.”
Revelation 9:7-11 NLT
John’s vision continues with more information about these pesky locusts. It is almost as though John, in the vision, zoomed in to obtain a close up view of the stingers. And they were scary beasts indeed. John’s description was quite explicit. However, they seemed to be hybrid creatures, so different to ordinary locusts. The description of them had the attributes of a vicious and relentless army, equipped for battle with weapons of war. Their power was such that the people of the day had no defence against them. And what was worse, in a way, was that their weapons were to be used for torment rather than death. In the previous verses we read that the people who were stung wanted to die but couldn’t.
In Deuteronomy 28 we read about what God said would happen to the Jewish nation if they were disobedient to His commands. Verse 20, “The Lord himself will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in everything you do, until at last you are completely destroyed for doing evil and abandoning me“. Verse 38, “You will plant much but harvest little, for locusts will eat your crops“. So perhaps the infestation of locusts was part of the fulfilment of the Old Testament warning.
John was told that the figure behind the army of locusts was “the angel from the bottomless pit”. Who else could that have been other than the devil himself? So the picture emerges of our enemy, the devil, unleashing a terrible army to attack mankind. Some theologians think that the army represented the Roman Empire, which ruled the nations at that time with a rod of iron. But that doesn’t seem to fit the series of events laid out in John’s vision. But thankfully, Christians, God’s people, were spared, as we read in Revelation 9:4.
A pilgrim’s life in these turbulent times would have been difficult, to say the least. How would we stand firm in our faith in such times of persecution? Paul wrote an exhortation in his first letter to the Corinthians. We read in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless“. Even in our own times of distress, the Lord’s work is there to be done. Being loving and compassionate to those less fortunate around us. Helping practically where we can, looking out for our neighbours and friends, our families and communities. Praying constantly. Encouraging one another. The list is endless. Seeing God move in our lives, and in the lives of those around us is something that greatly surpasses anything the devil will try and throw at us.
Father God, we thank You that You have a job for us to do. Please bring our way those who need a touch of Your love and compassion, and give us the gracious words we need. Open doors we pray so that Your presence can be introduced into the homes of our friends and neighbours, through what we say and do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.