Wednesday, 6 January 2021
They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. Revelation 9:4
This now refers to the locusts mentioned in the previous verse that were given the power “as the scorpions of the earth have power.” Of these “locusts,” John says, “They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth.” The “green grass” was mentioned in verse 8:7. There, it said that “all the green grass was burned up.”
Though the two thoughts seem contradictory, they do not have to be. As previously noted, the word “earth” can signify many things, from a certain land – such as Israel – to a portion of the earth, or the entire earth, and so on. Therefore, the destruction of the first trumpet could be localized to an area, and in that area, all the grass is burned up. As noted then, the grass being referred to could also be literal or figurative.
Another point is that the term “locusts” is certainly being used in a figurative sense. This is because of what was cited from the proverbs in the previous verse –
“The locusts have no king,
Yet they all advance in ranks.” Proverbs 30:27
The locusts here in Revelation are “commanded,” implying having a leader. These “locusts” are given orders, and they are on a particular mission. Next, it says, “or any green thing, or any tree.” Again, the trees were mentioned in verse 8:7. Mentioning them again, along with the grass and any other green thing, appears to demand a symbolic interpretation of what these things are.
Green implies life, health, and vigor. Jesus used this idea as He was being led to His crucifixion in Luke 23 –
“For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin ‘to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ 31 For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?” Luke 23:29-31
As noted in verse 8:7, the green trees would then speak of people in rule and authority. The green grass would be representative of the people in general, and the other green things may extend to animals of the people from the pet dog to livestock. Such is speculation, and it is hard to be dogmatic about the events. Whatever is alive and healthy appears to be what is referred to in these metaphors. The reason for this is what is then said in the contrasting words that complete the verse, saying “but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.”
Locusts are naturally creatures that eat the green things of the earth. For them not to do so would be contrary to their very nature. With this understanding, these “locusts” are commanded to do what is contrary to the normal function of an actual locust. This needs to be remembered in order to understand what is being presented.
The “seal of God” was referred to in Chapter 7 in relation to the sealing of the one hundred and forty-four thousand of Israel. The sealing was on their foreheads, and so these are those who are being referred to again. Thus, as noted in Chapter 8, it appears that the trumpet judgments are localized to the land of Israel. There are those of Israel who are redeemed by Christ, and then there are those who are not. It is those who are not sealed that are targeted by these locusts.
Life application: Probably, because the sealed are Jewish believers in Christ, these “locusts” are kept from coming against all of Israel – believer or unbeliever – because they would certainly be intermingled and living together in the land. If this is correct, in this time of trial, grace can be found on those who don’t yet believe, because they are protected along with those who do. This is a similar concept to 1 Corinthians 7:14, where children with one believing parent and one unbelieving parent are sanctified by the believing parent.
In the end of the tribulation, the nation of Israel as a whole will call on Jesus as Lord, and it is when they do that He will return. Until then, they will go through many trials and troubles as their hard hearts fail to see what is so obvious and clear – that Jesus Christ is their Lord, King, Savior, and Messiah.
Until then, they are as lost as they can be. Like the unsaved that we pray for around the world, remember to pray for the nation of Israel as well – the people and the nation. They are surrounded by many hating nations, and things will only get much worse before they get better. But that better day is coming. When Jesus returns, He will set up His glorious kingdom in their midst.
Heavenly Father, thank You for how You have faithfully kept every promise to Your people Israel and how You, even now, look over them and protect them. Your faithfulness to them is to be a sure reminder that You are also faithful to us, even when we fail You. The covenant in Christ’s blood has been made, and You have made sure promises to those who receive it by faith. Thank You for Your faithfulness! You have promised to keep and protect us, and Your word is true. Amen.