Like A Sharp Arrow
One morning, I was going about my usual business, fixing breakfast, doing laundry, and so on, when I had to run out to the garage to get something. I don’t remember what it was, but WOW, do I remember what happened next. Something zinged my bare foot like a sharp arrow. When I looked down at the floor, there was a little bitty, horrible creature – a scorpion. It had just stung my foot and wowza – did it hurt like fire! Hopping like lightening into the house, I immediately put a charcoal poultice on my foot and fortunately the stinging subsided in a couple hours. You can be sure I pay closer attention to where I step now.
In Revelation, there are seven angels that blow trumpets. After each sounding of the trumpet, wild things happen. These are scary verses. I’m not into horror movies. Even slightly scary movies give me the heebie jeebies. So when I first read these verses about the fifth trumpet it was a little un-nerving – especially when I read about the locusts that come out of the bottomless pit that have power like scorpions and torment people like scorpions… with stings in their tails. Yikes!
“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. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.” -Revelation 9:3-5
Revelation chapter 9 goes on to describe the locusts as having the shape of horses wearing crowns of gold and having the faces of men, hair as women, teeth of lions and wings. That’s a weird creature! And then here’s the scorpion stuff again.
“And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.” -Revelation 9:10
What’s With the Scorpions?
Why are these creatures described as being like stinging scorpions and what does that symbolize? This question puzzled me for a very long time. I’m still wrestling with these verses, but the Bible provides some very interesting clues that we’re going to unearth.
God is so good to give us his Word and as lamp to our feet and a guide to our path (Ps. 119:105). It’s like a giant puzzle. When you keep reading the Bible, you’ll find clues to help answer the many questions you’ll have in life. Okay, so you might not have been asking, “What about the scorpions in Revelation chapter 9?”. But I asked, and now you get to come along for the adventure. Hold on…!
The Old Testament uses the symbolism of scorpions also. John the apostle was a loyal follower of God and knew the Old Testament scriptures well. I wonder if he thought of these passages when seeing the stinging scorpion tails in vision?
Ezekiel the prophet was told to go to the children of Israel and tell them a very important message from God. He was to warn them to turn from their idolatry, repent and turn back to the worship of the true God. God wanted to save his wandering people because He knew they were headed down a very dangerous and destructive path. God knew this would be a hard job for Ezekiel because the people were very rebellious and stubborn (Ezek. 2:3). These are some of the words God spoke to Ezekiel. Watch for the scorpions!
“And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them [the rebellious children of Israel], neither be afraid of their words, 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.” -Ezekiel 2:6
Okay, that’s interesting! Did you catch that? In this passage, people that are supposed to be following God, but are in rebellion against him are compared to what? Yes, scorpions, especially referring to their words and their looks (as in, how they look at you).
Then God gives Ezekiel this not so gentle warning:
“But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee.” -Ezekiel 2:8
Has your mom ever said, “Just open your mouth and eat it! No discussion!”?
God’s saying to Ezekiel – well this is my translation… I’m going to tell you some things to tell the people that they might not want to hear. You must tell them the truth. They won’t like what you say and they will be rebellious and unkind and say mean things. Tell them anyway. And by the way, don’t be like them. Don’t be rebellious, and don’t be unkind.
Good advice. We could learn a lot from that. We should also listen to God’s Word, the Bible. We should do what it says and share with others what we’ve learned. We should always be kind, even if others are not kind to us. Hmm, reminds of another Bible verse.
And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. -Luke 6:31
Remember the saying, “Stick and stones may hurt my bones but words can never hurt me.”? That’s not very accurate is it? Words can be very painful and leave deep wounds. It seems that even people who claim to follow God will say very mean and hurtful things, especially as we get close to the end of this world’s history. And sometimes they will do mean and terrible things too. According to Revelation, they will say the most hurtful and stinging things to those who are faithfully following God and are sharing the truth in God’s word. Oh, how sad!
And why the symbolism of locusts?
“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.” -Revelation 9:3
Well swarms of locusts eat everything in sight. In the Bible locusts often refer to a huge number. This could represent how big the plague is. In other words this will be happening a lot – an overwhelming swarm of backbiting tongues and rebellious people. Sigh!
The Good News!
Praise God there is good news in the fifth trumpet warning. In case you missed it, here it is.
“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.” -Revelation 9:1
This is so strange. Locusts like to eat grass and any green thing. So this is a BIG miracle happening here. Grass, green things and trees often represent people in the Bible (Isaiah 40:7; Psalm 37:2; Psalm 92:12; Proverbs 15:4). Sometimes they refer to wicked people and sometimes righteous people. In this verse, it refers to God’s followers, because the only ones allowed to be hurt are those which do not have the seal of God in their foreheads. In other words, those sealed by God are not allowed to be hurt.
How is it that you cannot be hurt when you share the truth in God’s word and people who should be happy about this say very terrible things about you or to you? Isn’t it natural to be hurt and offended?
“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and tell John the things which you have heard and seen: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.’” Luke 7:22-23
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” -Matthew 24:9-14
Jesus said “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” You may think this is impossible to do – to not be offended – when people say mean things about you. Even grown-ups at church get offended on a regular basis. Does that mean there’s no hope for me?
God’s followers are described as having the seal of God in their foreheads. The Bible tells us that this seal is the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:12-14; Eph. 4:30; 2 Cor. 1:21-22). The Holy Spirit helps us to know the truth and gives us the power to do what God asks us to do (Phil. 2:13). Jesus has asked us to love our enemies and he will help us do just that if we ask Him. He doesn’t want us to be like scorpions with stinging tongues.
“But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” Luke 6:35-36
And yet, we may feel like we’ve been stung by scorpions sometimes. Jesus will protect you when you call on him and claim His promises. Jesus can help you to love others, even your enemies, and not be offended by them. God promises to give the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks Him, and He always keeps his promises! You may want to memorize these wonderful Bible promises so you can claim them when your feelings get hurt.
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Luke 11:13
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Ask Jesus today and everyday to fill you with his Holy Spirit and to help you be kind and forgiving. The Holy Spirit is sort of like that charcoal poultice I put on my scorpion sting. After just a short time the pain went away and I couldn’t even tell I had been stung. Jesus can help you do things that seem impossible, like loving and forgiving those who are unkind. And remember to thank Him for protecting you from the swarm of locusts with stinging scorpion tails
Note: This study is a piece of the big puzzle that is the seven trumpet plagues. There is certainly much more more to this trumpet plague than what is presented above. It is not my intention to downplay the terrible physical persecution that many Christians are facing and will face because of their loyalty to Christ. The purpose of this study is to share with kids what Revelation teaches us about how to follow Jesus and become more like Him. Also it is my goal to uncover the blessings in Revelation that show how God loves and cares for his faithful followers.
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