[The fallen star] "opened the bottomless pit. . . . And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 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 which have not the seal of God in their foreheads." (Rev. 9:1-4)
" And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the land of
Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up upon the land of Egypt. .
. . And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, For they
covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and
they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which
the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees,
or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt." (Ex. 10:12-15
Given power like scorpions
Again notice that these pests were given their power. Even in Satan's most violent aggression, God is in control allowing him to demonstrate the folly of his rebellion so that no one will ever want to copy it.
" And he said unto me [Ezekiel], Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day. . . . though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house." (Ezek. 2:3-6)
Who gets hurt and who doesn't
"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 which have not the seal of God in their foreheads." (Rev. 9:4).
Because some people do not
have the seal of God, we may conclude that others do and that the sealing
has already occurred. Although not directly mentioned, those who do have
the seal are significant, too. We see also that this is the time the 144,000
are ready because in chapter 7 the winds were held from blowing and harming
earth, sea, and trees until the servants of God were sealed in their foreheads.
Then we heard the number of the sealed ones — 144,000 from all the tribes.
We will see the four angels again at the beginning of the events of the
Grass, green things, and trees are mentioned here where trees were the only vegetation listed in chapter 7. "And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea." (7:2). Because, there, the angels had been commissioned to release the winds only against earth and sea, we may understand the trees to be the servants to be sealed 0703b. We also saw vegetation as people damaged under the first trumpet call, 0807b. The river photo is from the UK. © Correll.
On being sealed in their foreheads, see 1401c.
Locusts with a
Did you notice? The very thing locusts naturally devour — green plants — they are not to touch. This bit of irony compared with other descriptions of the same events provides a special insight. In chapter 16, we find the kings (governments of the world) set to attack the righteous only to find them protected and the the wicked suffering instead 1616.
Scorpion torment for five months
^ And to them [locusts from the pit] it was given that they should not kill them [those without the seal], but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. (Rev. 9:5)
Looking in our concordance, we find only one other reference to a five-month period of time. Here it is:
"And there appeared unto him [unto Zacharias, father-to-be of John the Baptist] an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. . . . But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. . . . And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men."
To be childless was a great embarrassment, as we remember in the story of Samuel's mother, Hannah and others. Women without children were often considered widows. The condition carried not only a social stigma but a spiritual one (The Bible Almanac, Packer, et al, p. 441, 1980). Among the promises for obedience God had declared, "Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you. . . ." (Deut. 7:14). Although this was a promise to the nation, people apparently took it personally, too, which I don't believe God intended. Zacharias and Elisabeth must have been godly people but Elisabeth, and no doubt her husband, felt reproached by others and she may have felt condemned by God.
Now, there was good news but Elisabeth secluded herself for five months. She said, "Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men." For many years, God had not heard her cries for a child. Her coming out of seclusion would represent God's acting for her in giving her and Zacharias a child thus removing the cloud they had endured. Her time of isolation ended ("the sixth month") when her relative (not necessarily a cousin), Mary, came to visit, and when her baby jumped in her womb.
Returning to Revelation 9, we may see the righteous ones experiencing the time of Elisabeth's isolation. They are loved and approved by God, but they feel somehow cut off and their past forgiven sins bear heavily on them. They are experiencing the time of silence of the seventh seal 0801. The Lord's message was silent, as well, from the lips of Zacharias during the literal five months.
Isaiah also described the time of seclusion for God's people. "Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain." (Isa. 26:20, 21).
Elisabeth's five months are the time of Jacob's trouble 0801c for God's last generation. This time of remorse will likewise end in rejoicing and being exalted by God — the very ones who had been scorned and persecuted by the world 0801d.
"And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
"And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. . . . For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever." (Luke 1:41-55)
And so shall God exalt His people after the time of their reproach! See Isaiah 62:1ff.
Mother of my Lord
Are those who call Mary "the mother of God" justified by the statement by Elizabeth? Mary was chosen to provide the human element of Christ's mysterious nature (Heb. 2:14). The term "mother of God" implies that Mary was divine or partly so. See mt1246ff.
Torment of a scorpion
when he strikes a man
Hardly a desirable situation. We will discuss this when we get to verse 10 where the five months of scorpion torment is mentioned again.
Unable to die
"And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them." (Rev. 9:6)
What a sad situation! These
people will be like Judas, sorry for their situation but not repentant
(9:20). Their minds are no longer receptive to the call of the Holy Spirit
and He no longer pleads with their hearts.
"Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself." (Matt. 27:3-5) mt2703. Judas found release in death — release until he is resurrected at the end of the thousand years (Rev. 20:4, 7, 8). The people in our verse remain alive to face the consequences of their choice.
"And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" (Rev. 6:15-17)
How important it is for us to make or confirm our commitment to Christ now while the Spirit calls!