Rev. VanBaren is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hudsonville, Michigan.

We read in Revelation 9:1-12 of the locusts that come out of the bottomless pit. A horrible, terrifying picture is presented. Read the passage carefully. For those who would seek an extensive treatment of the passage, I would urge them to read Behold, He Cometh, chapter 21, written by the Rev. Herman Hoeksema.

These locusts come forth because of the blowing of the fifth trumpet. Recall that Revelation presents first seven seals. Seven trumpets come forth from the seventh seal. Then follow seven vials or bowls out of the seventh trumpet. The seals represent the “normal” number of disasters (one-fourth of the earth is affected) that fall on the earth. The trumpets mark an increase to one-third. The vials represent the total destruction that comes at the end of the age.

The time in which -we live reminds one greatly of that period when these locusts prevail over the earth. Are we not living even now in that period of the sounding of the trumpets? Do we not observe in many areas an increase of death, destruction, and devastation?

The locusts are, obviously, not literal locusts. The description of them in Revelation does not allow for such interpretation. Yet the resemblance is there. As locusts devour and destroy, so do these locusts. As locusts afflict an area for about five months, so do those in Revelation.

Verse 1 speaks of the “star” which fell-from heaven with the key of the bottomless pit. This star cannot be a literal star. That “star” is Satan, for he is represented here as an intellectual being. He takes the key to the bottomless pit and opens it.

From that bottomless pit comes forth a horde of locusts that cover the earth. These “locusts” could not come forth at any time, but only when the pit is opened. These would be part of the host of fallen angels who are not allowed to carry out their terrible devastation until God gives to the “star” the key to open the pit. This is a band or army of Satan that particularly troubles mankind, but are held in the pit until the time appointed for their release. Only now in this end time is Satan given permission to open the pit.

The portrayal of these locusts suggests also what takes place in the last days. There are two parts to these locusts: the front and back. The front is extremely appealing: “Like horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were crowns like gold, and their faces were the faces of men. They had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.” The back part of the locusts, however, portrays a different and dreadful aspect: “They had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.” That explains the statement in verses 5 and 6, “And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.”

The activity of these locusts is limited to those who have not the seal of God in their foreheads (v. 4). Children of God are not affected; but the measure of wickedness in the world is being filled – with the related consequences. But man, extolling the beauty of the heads of these locusts, insists on denying a connection between the heads and the tails.

What is the meaning of the heads of these locusts? These are “like unto horses prepared unto battle.” They go forth prepared to influence and seduce mankind. From a human viewpoint, these appear to succeed. These demons are making use of books, magazines, television, movies, radio, songs, advertising, and “peer pressures,” to influence and affect the thoughts of mankind.

Note that these locusts have crowns like gold on their heads, faces as men, hair as women, and teeth as lions. There is that which is very attractive in this. Power or rule is portrayed by crowns like gold. There are pictured intelligence and wisdom in the faces as men. One sees beauty and loveliness in the “hair as women.” These are the demons who play upon the sinful desires and lusts of men. These appeal to the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.”

Paul speaks of these in Romans 1:23-24, “And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image make like to corruptible man…. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves . . . .” And again he writes in verse 32, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”

Have you observed what is taking place today? Though the sinfulness of mankind has been evident through the ages since Adam’s fall, that corruption is rapidly increasing in our day. The “locusts” are overrunning the earth-yet not many pay any attention.

Allow me to point out just a few things. Man has placed great emphasis on material possessions. He has gone to great lengths to accumulate more. He has used his newly found ability to control much of the creation. With pesticides and herbicides and fertilizers he will increase his crops. He takes advantage of the energy sources of this earth to keep him warm and provide the power for transportation of every sort.

Man also makes use of his intelligence (the “man’s face” of the locust) to produce ever more spectacular inventions: He seeks to manipulate genes. He makes amazing computers. He speaks of the “information highway” which will interconnect every home with every other home. One can point to many other of his great inventions as well.

The locusts have “hair as the hair of women.” In speaking of the “hair of women,” Scripture points to that which portrays what is sexually attractive to men. The “locusts” have especially encouraged this aspect of the depraved nature of man. The pervasiveness of lust, of sexual perversions, of “alternate life-styles” is evident today. Many deplore the rapes, the pornography, the child abuse, and other corruptions of our society. Still, under the name of “freedom of expression” vast amounts of filth flow out of the printing presses, radio, television, videos, and books. It is what many find appealing and attractive.

Homosexuality has been defended and even promoted. Those who oppose this are called bigots. Those who oppose are even being charged with violation of the laws of the land. This life-style is even presented as beautiful and meaningful.

But also there comes the sting of the tail (like unto scorpions) of these locusts. Though many refuse to recognize this too, still the sting is apparent throughout the world. There is on the part of many a discouragement and disillusionment. There are those who would even take their own lives – but have not the courage to do so.

This “sting” is perhaps most obvious in the spread of AIDS disease. This disease, most often associated with homosexualism and drug usage, is pandemic. Millions have been spent to find cures. Anger is shown when this disease is in any way called a punishment of God. The cause and effect are so obvious that none can deny it; Man seeks to find ways of preventing the disease while continuing in the sin. The sting, however, remains. Other “stings” are evident with different pervading sexual sins as well: adultery, fornication, divorce and remarriage, etc.

The past generation has seen a vast increase in the sum-total of man’s knowledge. Inventions proliferate. Man has been able to increase productivity both in farming and manufacturing. It is the “face of a man” as seen in the locusts. But now the tail also is being increasingly seen. The by-products of man’s inventiveness have been the cause of pollution and diseases of various sorts. The whole of the environment is affected. Forests have been devastated. Seas have been polluted. The fish of the seas have been decimated. Belatedly man attempts to remedy some of his past excesses. The sting, however, remains.

Many other instances of this same thing can be observed by those with eyes to see. It also becomes clear how that this affects “only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.” Although there are instances where children of God are affected by these locusts as well, clearly it is the deliberate and willful sinfulness of mankind that is followed by the sting of the tail of the locust. The unbeliever fills the measure of iniquity and already in this life suffers the consequences. Man’s response is not confession and repentance. Scripture’s testimony concerning man is, “Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts” (Rev. 9:21).

For the Christian it is a time to look up, for redemption draws nigh. We live in amazing times. We see the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Word of God. Then we know that the return of our Lord is at hand.