The Significance of the Locust Army in Revelation 9



The Significance of the Locust Army in Revelation 9

The Significance of the Locust Army in Revelation 9

The Book of Revelation, filled with symbolic and apocalyptic imagery, presents one of its most striking visions in Revelation 9:3-12—the locust army. Understanding the significance of this locust army provides insight into the broader themes of divine judgment, protection, and the ultimate triumph of God’s will as depicted in Revelation.

Context of Revelation 9

In the context of the Seven Trumpets, Revelation 9 describes the events following the sounding of the fifth trumpet. This trumpet heralds a period of great tribulation and divine judgment, introducing a plague of locusts unlike any known to humanity.

Characteristics of the Locust Army

1. Divine Instrument of Judgment: The locusts emerge from the abyss, symbolizing their origin from a place of deep chaos and evil. Their release signifies a divinely sanctioned period of torment for those not sealed by God.

2. Power of Scorpions: These locusts possess the power to sting like scorpions, inflicting severe pain and suffering. Their sting does not kill but causes torment, emphasizing the nature of divine punishment as a corrective force rather than outright destruction.

3. Targeted Torment: The locusts are commanded to harm only those who do not have the Seal of God on their foreheads. This selective targeting highlights the distinction between those who are under God’s protection and those who are not.

4. Symbolic Descriptions: The locusts are described with vivid and terrifying features—faces like humans, hair like women, teeth like lions, and tails like scorpions. These descriptions blend human and demonic traits, symbolizing intelligence and malevolence.

Symbolism of the Locust Army

1. Agents of Chaos: The locust army symbolizes agents of chaos and destruction, unleashed to bring divine judgment upon the earth. Their release from the abyss signifies a temporary allowance of evil to fulfill God’s purposes.

2. Spiritual Warfare: The locusts represent spiritual forces of evil that torment those not aligned with God. This interpretation underscores the ongoing spiritual battle between good and evil.

3. Warning and Repentance: The torment inflicted by the locusts serves as a warning, urging repentance and turning back to God. The period of suffering is an opportunity for the unsealed to seek God’s mercy.

The Seal of God

1. Protection for the Faithful: The Seal of God serves as a mark of divine protection. Those who bear this seal are spared from the torment, highlighting God’s care and preservation of His faithful.

2. Spiritual Assurance: The seal signifies belonging to God and assurance of salvation. It reflects the Old Testament practice of marking individuals for protection (Ezekiel 9:4-6).

Interpretations of the Locust Plague

1. Literal Interpretation: Some scholars view the locust plague as a future, literal event involving demonic entities physically tormenting humanity.

2. Symbolic Interpretation: Others interpret the locusts as symbols of oppressive regimes, false teachings, or widespread deception leading people away from God.

3. Historical-Critical Interpretation: This perspective considers the locusts as representing historical persecutions, such as the Roman Empire’s oppression of early Christians.

How do the locusts in Revelation 9:3-12 symbolize divine judgment?

In Revelation 9:3-12, the locusts are a powerful symbol of divine judgment. This passage describes a plague of locusts unleashed from the abyss, which is often interpreted as a manifestation of God’s wrath and judgment on the earth. Here’s a breakdown of how these locusts symbolize divine judgment:

The Significance of the Locust Army in Revelation 9
  1. Origin and Authority:
    • The locusts originate from the “bottomless pit” or abyss, opened by an angel holding a key.
    • Their divine or supernatural source suggests a purposeful release as part of a deliberate divine plan.
    • The fact that they can harm humans indicates God’s sovereign control over the judgment.
  2. Unusual Nature:
    • Unlike ordinary locusts, these are not interested in vegetation but tormenting people without the seal of God on their foreheads.
    • This distinction highlights the targeted nature of the judgment, affecting only those not protected by God.
  3. Torment Rather than Death:
    • The locusts have the power to torment people for five months, causing immense suffering without causing death.
    • This prolonged torment is a form of judgment that allows for the possibility of repentance, emphasizing the urgency of the warning.
  4. Symbolic Description:
    • The locusts’ detailed and vivid description (crowns, human faces, women’s hair, lion’s teeth, breastplates of iron, scorpion-like tails) symbolizes their terrifying and invincible nature.
    • This imagery underscores the inescapable character of divine judgment.
  5. Connection to Old Testament Imagery:
    • The locusts in Revelation 9:3-12 evoke the plagues of Egypt (Exodus 10:12-15) and the prophetic imagery of judgment in the Book of Joel (Joel 1:4, 2:1-11).
    • They serve as a warning to repent and return to God.

Overall, the locusts in Revelation 9:3-12 symbolize divine judgment through their origin, nature, purpose, and symbolic description. They serve as a powerful warning and a call to repentance, emphasizing the seriousness of straying from God’s commandments and the unavoidable consequences of such actions.

How should Christians understand the imagery in Revelation 9?

Christians interpret the imagery in Revelation 9 in diverse and multifaceted ways, uncovering profound layers of symbolism, divine judgment, and spiritual realities. Here are a few key perspectives:

The Significance of the Locust Army in Revelation 9
  1. Symbolic Representation: Many Christians interpret the imagery symbolically, viewing the locusts’ terrifying features as a metaphor for the destructive power of evil and sin’s severe consequences. This interpretation emphasizes moral and spiritual lessons rather than predicting specific physical events.
  2. Divine Judgment and Warning: The locusts serve as instruments of divine judgment, warning humanity of the consequences of rejecting God. Their torment serves as a call to repentance, urging people to turn back to God. This interpretation aligns with the biblical theme of God using trials and tribulations to bring about repentance and spiritual awakening.
  3. Spiritual Warfare: Some Christians see the locusts as representations of demonic forces unleashed upon the earth, with the abyss symbolizing a realm of evil. This perspective highlights the reality of spiritual warfare, reminding believers of the need to remain vigilant and rely on God’s protection against the forces of darkness.
  4. Historical and Futuristic Perspectives:
  • Historical: Some Christians, particularly those with a preterist view, believe the events in Revelation were fulfilled in the past, specifically during the Roman Empire’s persecution of Christians. The locusts symbolize historical events or figures that inflicted suffering and trials on the early church.
  • Futuristic: Others with a futurist interpretation see Revelation 9 as a prophecy of future events, part of the end-times scenario. Here, the locusts represent future demonic or supernatural beings involved in the final judgment before Christ’s return.

      5.Theological and Pastoral Applications:

  • Theological: The passage underscores themes of God’s sovereignty, justice, and mercy. The limited duration of the torment suggests a purposeful and controlled judgment, with opportunities for repentance and redemption.
  • Pastoral: The imagery offers comfort to Christians facing trials, reminding them of God’s ultimate triumph over evil. It encourages perseverance and faithfulness, assuring believers that God’s justice will ultimately prevail despite present suffering.

How can believers prepare for the events described in Revelation?

Believers can prepare for the events described in Revelation by focusing on spiritual readiness, faithfulness, and living out their faith in practical ways. Here are several key steps for preparation:

  1. Strengthening Faith and Relationship with God:
    • Prayer and Worship: Regular prayer and worship deepen the relationship with God, providing strength and guidance.
    • Bible Study: Understanding Scripture, particularly prophetic books like Revelation, helps believers comprehend God’s plan and promises.
  2. Pursuing Holiness and Righteous Living:
    • Obedience to God’s Commands: Living according to biblical principles ensures alignment with God’s will.
    • Repentance: Regular self-examination and repentance help maintain a pure heart and conscience before God.
  3. Building Community and Fellowship:
    • Church Involvement: Active participation in a church community provides support, accountability, and encouragement.
    • Fellowship with Other Believers: Engaging in small groups and Christian fellowship strengthens mutual faith and support.
  4. Spreading the Gospel:
    • Evangelism: Sharing the message of Jesus Christ with others fulfills the Great Commission and brings hope to those who have not yet heard the Gospel.
    • Discipleship: Helping others grow in their faith ensures a strong and resilient Christian community.
  5. Developing Spiritual Discernment:
    • Understanding Prophecy: Studying prophetic Scripture and teachings helps in recognizing the signs of the times and discerning truth from deception.
    • Seeking Wisdom: Praying for wisdom and discernment equips believers to navigate complex and challenging situations.

To prepare for the events described in Revelation, believers engage in various practices. They deepen their connection with God, strive to live righteously, actively participate in their community, and spread the Gospel. Additionally, they work on developing discernment, building resilience, and nurturing hope. Practical preparations are also made. These actions not only prepare believers for potential end-time events but also enhance their daily spiritual journey with God.


The locust army in Revelation 9:3-12 symbolizes a divine instrument of judgment, bringing torment to those not protected by the Seal of God. This vivid and unsettling vision underscores themes of divine justice, spiritual warfare, and the distinction between the faithful and the unfaithful. Understanding the significance of the locust army encourages deeper reflection on the nature of divine judgment, the importance of spiritual preparedness, and the assurance found in God’s protection for those who belong to Him.


Commentaries on Revelation:

  • “The Book of Revelation” by Robert H. Mounce: Mounce provides a detailed verse-by-verse analysis of Revelation, including the symbolic meaning of the locusts in chapter 9.
  • “Revelation” by Craig S. Keener: Keener’s commentary offers historical and cultural insights into the imagery of Revelation, including the locusts as a representation of divine judgment and demonic forces.

Theological Works:

  • “The Theology of the Book of Revelation” by Richard Bauckham: Bauckham explores the theological themes in Revelation, including the use of apocalyptic imagery like the locusts to convey God’s judgment and the spiritual battle.
  • “Revelation: A Shorter Commentary” by G. K. Beale: Beale’s work delves into the symbolic nature of the locusts and their connection to Old Testament imagery and prophetic literature.

Bible Dictionaries and Encyclopedias:

  • “The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis” (NIDNTTE), edited by Moisés Silva: This resource provides an in-depth analysis of key terms and concepts in Revelation, including the locusts.
  • “The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary”: This comprehensive reference work includes entries on the symbolism and interpretation of apocalyptic creatures in Revelation.
Share This Article
Leave a comment