Read Revelation 9
Trumpet judgments five and six introduce some new and downright disturbing imagery into the mix of things we’ve already seen. John is able to describe the agents of both judgments in vivid detail. It is important, looking toward the end of this chapter, to keep in mind the ultimate purpose of these judgments. We easily see the pain and suffering that is taking place here, however, Scripture indicates the strong desire to see repentance and turning toward God as the primary goal of these happenings. In fact, Scripture testifies to that as well in 2 Peter, indicating that it is God’s desire that all will turn to Him and that none would perish.
The fifth trumpet judgment sees the star that had fallen become a sort of divine agent, possibly a reference to the devil himself, having fallen from heaven and creating bitterness on the earth. He releases a demonic army that is sent to torture the people of the earth who are not sealed by God. This judgment draws its imagery again from the plagues of Egypt, particularly the plague of locusts.
Describing the locusts that he sees, John shows us a very scary image of these demons. Each aspect, though, represents a part of these demons. They have human faces representing cunning and intelligence, not just a mindless rabble. Their crowns represent a given power, not something weak or helpless. Having women’s hair could represent a sort of false beauty that might be present, and the lion’s teeth the cruel and inhuman ability to devour. Having armor may represent a strength that these demons have; iron armor was the strongest armor present at the time. In and with their tails they have the ability to torment, perhaps representing the sting of sin and the resulting pain it always causes.
The head of these demons is called “Appolyon,” which means destruction; a fitting name for the devil and his demonic hordes. Even with all this ability, though, their power is limited as is the time that they have to carry out their task as represented by the 5-month time limit.
Moving on to the sixth trumpet judgment we see a new entity, an army of horses and riders with eerily similar powers except that this time they could actually kill. The number of these riders is beyond counting, and their appearance is equally as frightening as that of the locusts. Much of the imagery is the same, the tails having the head of a snake on them confirms their demonic origin.
Contained in these verses is something that could easily be missed but is quite important to what we have been experiencing. Verse 15 states that these 4 angels had been kept for the very hour, day, month, and year that this was happening. The exact nature of this action, along with all the rest is important. In the midst of the chaos that we are reading through here, it is important to note that God is still very much in control. In fact, what He is working out here in the book of Revelation is all part of the plan, even if it doesn’t seem so to us.
What may not be readily evident here is what this all represents. Certainly, it would be much easier for us to look at these things happening in some cataclysmic period way in the future and be ok with it. In fact, that is how many people tend to look at the book of Revelation. However, that is not necessarily how we have been looking at this book nor is it how we look at prophetic Scripture in general.
Remember that all of Scripture is living and active, that the main thrust of prophetic literature was to communicate what God was doing at the time it was written. We also believe that Scripture speaks to our situation here and now. John was writing in the midst of extreme persecution against the Christian community but ultimately their hope and ours rests in the strength and protection that is found in Jesus Christ who has and who will be victorious over all the evil and activity of the enemy.