The 5th trumpet brings the first terror. The description of these locusts is terrifying to be sure. The locusts I’m familiar with devour vegetation and leave people alone. The ones we read about today are just the opposite. God gives these evil locusts 5 months to terrorize the unbelievers. The life span of a “normal” locust is also 5 months. Their life span is the only thing these critters have in common.
So what do you make of today’s reading? Are you starting to feel uncomfortable? Fearful? We have a lot more detail there on the 5th trumpet than we did the first 4 trumpets in our last reading. We know that trumpets were known in battle to signal the start of an attack. The angel’s trumpet blasts seem to be intensifying in nature. Today’s locusts are attacking people, whereas the first 4 trumpet blasts signaled an attack on creation.
The smoke we see in today’s reading is also quite different from the smoke of incense which carried the prayers of the people before God in Chapter 8. Today’s smoke is birthing these creatures of torture. We see an army coming not to destroy the non-believers but to make their lives miserable. I’ve never been stung by a scorpion, but David has, and, from his account, it was painful and frightening.
It may also be helpful to keep in mind these judgments of God are not necessarily happening on a timeline or as an exact sequence of events. For example, in yesterday’s reading, the grass was destroyed, but today it’s back. These visions all have the same intent, to make the reader uncomfortable and to move us into taking action. When our sense of security is threatened, we do something to protect it. These messages or warnings should prompt us to repent and return us to God.
It should be clear to us by now there is no chance to find security apart from trusting God and the Lamb, Jesus Christ. The shock and awe of God’s message to the people is to result in action. God wants us all to find him, return to him, to avoid these terrors. When we are confident of our salvation and who is in control, we can read these passages with confidence and not fear.
Take some time today to do an inventory of your relationship with God.
Let’s pray. Lord, I thank you that you are in control. While these visions are frightening, I feel no fear. I know you are with me. Thank you for that assurance in my salvation. For those who are far from you and don’t know the way, I pray you use my words and my life to help draw attention to you and your goodness. Help me to stand strong and grow in my own faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen.