In Revelation 9 we are met with two terrifying images. The first is of a conglomerate-of-beings locust army, and the second is a fire-and-brimstone cavalry army. The first is not allowed to kill anyone—just torture for a limited amount of time—and the second kills a third of humanity. And then, the last two verses summarize the situation, “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts” (Revelation 9:20-21).
So, to some extent, the simplest way to understand these plagues is that they are plagues on idolaters. These plagues only strike those who do not belong to God (Revelation 9:4), so it’s almost as if the locusts mark out who the idolaters are, and then when the sixth trumpet blows the idolaters are destroyed.
The passage about the locusts specifically has seriously stuck out to me in the last several months because I’ve gone through an intense period of depression and spiritual agony, that has unfortunately made me question whether living any longer is even worth it. I have since found great hope even in the midst of this very vague and strange vision that Jesus showed to John.
The question it puts before us is: what are you worshipping? If you aren’t solely worshipping Jesus, you are worshipping something that will ultimately torture you, or at least has the potential to. While 9:4 is very clear that these demon locusts cannot harm a believer, it should still cause us to examine ourselves. Am I on a path that could potentially lead to feeling demonically tortured by the very things I’m worshipping? Worship ultimately reveals where the heart is; so if I persist in worshipping something false, then it follows that my heart may be false. This passage seeks to serve as a warning passage in much the same way that Hebrews 6:4-8 and other similar passages serve. Examine yourself!
In fact, Psalm 16:4 says, “The sorrows of those who take another god for themselves will multiply,” and that—in a nutshell—is what Jesus is showing to John in this vision. For more information on the topic, wait for my detailed exegesis of the passage; I plan to post it to academia.edu before August 24th.
Until then, worship Jesus!
Soli Deo Gloria!