The Scorpion’s Sting

During the Great Tribulation there is a shift that takes place between the fourth and fifth trumpet judgments. Revelation 8 ends with a plague upon a third of the sun, moon, and stars; and Revelation 9 moves from the physical to the spiritual realm.

It’s a riveting read. Dramatic judgment will be brought upon those who refuse to repent, and continue to reject. Worse yet it is demonic. Verses 3-6 in the NASB:

Then out of the smoke came locusts upon the earth, and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months; and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a man. And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death flees from them.

RevelationOnce again I am indebted to the verse-by-verse commentary of Revelation by the late Dr. John F. Walvoord. I taught on this passage yesterday and found his explanation of the demonic torment loosed upon man during this time instructive:

The description of these demons as having the destructive power of locusts and the painful sting of scorpions is most appropriate. In the Old Testament, locusts were a greatly feared plague because they could strip the country of every green leaf and sprout, leaving people and animals alike to die for lack of food. Frequently in the Bible locusts are used by the Lord as a divine judgment upon a wicked world. In the contest of Moses with Pharaoh in Egypt the plagues of locusts quickly caused Pharaoh to be humbled (Ex. 10:12-20).  Pharaoh pleaded with Moses and Aaron to “remove this death from me.” A similar plague of locusts is mentioned in Joel 1:4-7.

The locusts in Revelation 9 have the specific purpose of executing divine judgment. They do not eat vegetation, as ordinary locusts would do, and their stinging ability is certainly not characteristic of real locusts. They are able to torment real people, and apparently the entire unbelieving human race is vulnerable to their attacks. We believe those who are sealed by God, including the 144,000 of Revelation 7, will be protected from this terrible judgment. It seems improbable that any true believer in that day would be subject to the torment of the locusts; the torment is rather a judgment upon those who have rejected Christ

The torment caused by these demons is compared to the bite of a scorpion. Scorpions in all climates are fearful and harmful creatures. In warm climates, they grow to such size as to make their sting not only painful but dangerous. Small children sometimes die from the sting of a scorpion in tropical countries. Though the affliction here described is not actually a sting of a scorpion, it is compared to the pain and suffering caused by such a sting.

Further, the torment is said to extend for five months. The best interpretation is to take this literally as a period of five months, which is the normal life span of locusts from May to September. Although the time of the suffering is limited, the pain is so intense that people will seek death to escape it—but death will escape them.1

Pick up your Bible and read the entire chapter of Revelation 9. For sure, it is a dramatic display of the depravity of man.

1 Walvoord, John F. The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries: Revelation (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2011). 159-160.