9:4-6 A REAL WAR
Since the locust army of Revelation 9 is the same as that described in Joel, its activity would also represent some kind of military equipment and operation. One artist has rendered a compelling comparison of literal locusts and attack helicopters. The weaponry of the locusts seems to be somewhat unconventional, causing severe pain but not death—perhaps chemical, biological or radiation. “And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree; but only those men who do not have the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but but that they should be tormented five months; and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when it strikes a man. In those days men shall seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them” (Revelation 9:4-6).
The picture that emerges is that out of the chaos which results from what seems to be a catastrophic military attack, perhaps nuclear (the first four trumpets), comes a major military operation which causes intense suffering. God’s people, protected by the “seal of God on their foreheads”, are shielded, even as the children of Israel in
Joel indicates that the locust army will be defeated. “But I will remove far from you the northern army, and will drive him away into a barren and desolate land, with his face toward the eastern sea and his back toward the western sea. His stench will come up, and his foul odor will rise, because he has done monstrous things” (Joel 2:20). There are four points of particular interest in this passage: 1) This army is called the northern army (the ancient Hebrew and Greek read “the northern one” or “the from the north”). 2) The northern army will come to its end. 3) Defeat will take place between the two seas of