What do the locusts and scorpions represent in Revelation 9?

Revelation 9:1-3, 7-9

Locusts and scorpions are mentioned in Revelation 9:1-3,7-9. “Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pitAnd he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle.”

Locusts and Scorpions

The attack of the Locusts in Revelation 9 is similar to the plague of locusts on ancient Egypt (Exodus 10:13–15). Naturally locusts do not hurt the bodies of humans but these locusts are represented as having the poison of scorpions, which are shown as man’s enemy (Ezekeil 2:6; Luke 10:19; 11:12).

In the eighth century A.D., Beatus, a Spanish monk, identified the symbol of the locusts with the Moslem Arabs, who during his time had just conquered North Africa, the Near East, and Spain. And later on, locusts and scorpions have been also applied by many Protestant commentators (Calvin, Barnes, Wesley, Spurgeon, Elliot, etc.) to the armies of Mohammad in their wars of conquest. Mohammad was a fierce desert warrior who spread Islam by the sword.

A Brief commentary on Revelation 9

Verse 1: Many commentators have applied the phrase “a star fallen” to Satan and the Islamic leaders, whose cruelty served his evil purposes.

Verse 2: “The bottomless pit” points to desolate region of Arabia. The “smoke” that darkened “the sun and the air” has been applied to Mohamed’s doctrines that obscure “the sun” (the true light of Jesus Christ, Revelation 1:16) and “the air” (the fresh air of freedom, 2 Corinthians 3:17).

Verse 3: The locusts and scorpions refer to the armies of Mohamed in their wars of conquest.

Verses 4: A “command” and “authority” was mysteriously “given” to these ferocious armies only against those without “the seal of God in their foreheads.” In other words, authority was given to them as a scourge against apostate Christianity, which was similar to the authority given to King Nebuchadnezzar against ancient Israel when it wickedly departed from the ways of God (Jeremiah 25:8-11).

Verse 5: During the fifth trumpet, Islamic warriors were given authority for “five months.” Most Protestant commentators during the (1500s-1800s) applied the day-for-a-year principle (Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6) to this prophecy, making this 150 literal years (30 days in a Hebrew month x 5) of aggressive Islamic warfare against Constantinople, the capital city of the eastern Roman Empire. During that period (1299-1449 AD), the eastern Roman Empire was tormented, but not “kill[ed].”

Verse 6: Because of the persecution of the Islamic warriors, people had the “desire to die” (Jeremiah 8:3).

Verses 7-9: The symbolism in these verses exactly fits the dress of Turkish Muslim warriors, who wore gold colored, yellow long turbans as the national headdresses of the Arabians. And they had “hair like women’s hair” and were extremely cruel having “lions teeth.” Also, they wore “breastplates of iron,” and rode “horses” as they rushed “into battle,” which implies strength and speed.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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