It seems that if you want to make a good horror movie, a fine place to start is with a terrifying title. And what could be more terrifying than the title, "Attack of the Giant... " and then you name the foreboding creature which will surely spell humanity's demise? In a moment of idle curiosity, I googled "Attack of the Giant... " Here's what I found: "Attack of the Giant Leeches," "Attack of the Giant Squid," "Attack of the Giant Baby," "Attack of the Giant Gila Monster," "Attack of the Giant Shrews," "Attack of the Giant Ants," "Attack of the Giant Spiders," "Attack of the Giant Woman," "Attack of the Giant Crabs," and, last but not least, "Attack of the Giant Midget." Wait a second. That last one doesn't even make sense. It's kind of like enduring an attack from a jumbo shrimp. But I digress.
I must confess that on first read, Revelation 9 sounds like a scene out of a low-budget, b-list horror movie:
And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. Their hair was like women's hair, and their teeth were like lions' teeth. They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. They had tails and stings like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. (verses 3, 7-10)
What in the world could John possibly be talking about here? Is he planning on producing a corny horror flick: "Attack of the Giant Locusts"?
John's imagery of these giant locusts isn't nearly as esoteric and absurd as it first sounds. For the plagues which accompany the trumpets often find their origins in the famed ten plagues which God sent against Egypt. So it is with these locusts. Just as locusts once attacked the godless Egyptians (cf. Exodus 10:1-18), locusts again attack the godless people of the earth. And just as God protected the Israelites throughout the course of the ten plagues (cf. Exodus 8:22-23), God also protects his people during this devastating disaster (cf. verse 4). The character of the locusts in Revelation, however, seems to be much different from the character of the locusts in Exodus.
John's locusts, it appears, are demonic in nature. For they rise from the Abyss (cf. verse 2). Thus, these locusts are not to be taken as literal physical creatures, but as harrowing demons who sadistically bring trouble, trial, and tribulation on those who refuse to trust in the Lamb of God. And just like Pharaoh, who had a "hardened heart, and would not let the Israelites go" (Exodus 10:20), the people who suffer under the weight of these apocalyptic locusts "still do not repent of the work of their hands; they do not stop worshiping demons" (verse 20). With great irony, then, John informs us that the very demonic locusts who assail these unrepentant sufferers are the very demons who these unrepentant sufferers continue to worship. They worship the very things which harm them.
I often wonder how often we don't do the same thing as the sad people who suffer under these oppressive locusts. I wonder how many times we don't worship the very things which harm us. The bottle robs of us our liver. And yet we worship at the altar of our local bar. The career robs us of our family. And yet we worship at the altar of our desk. The lover robs us of our integrity. And yet we worship at the altar of our bed. We worship the very things which harm us. And Satan's demonic locusts get the best of us.
Is there any harmful thing which, in spite of your better sense, you nevertheless worship? Now is the time to repent and worship the true God who loves you, protects you, and saves you. Now is the time to declare freedom from the locusts that lacerate your soul. Now is the time to worship not the locusts of sin, but the Lamb of salvation. For he promises "to turn back the enemies who would wound you and instead be with you. And when the Lord is with you, never again will you fear any harm" (Zephaniah 3:15, paraphrase). And that's a promise no locust could ever make.