Saturday, 9 January 2021
The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. Revelation 9:7
In verses 7-10 John will describe the locusts from the abyss. The description of these locusts is John’s best attempt at describing something he had never seen or even imagined. Further, he was looking into the far future, to a time when Israel would again be established in her land and when the nations would wage war with technology. He never could have imagined what he was seeing. The time prophesied by John appears to be now. Today appears to be the day. What John was seeing then is a common sight of modern man. With this in mind, he says, “The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle.”
In John’s time, horses prepared for battle stood upright, they stood in formation, and they were covered with any armor outfitted for them. They would have borne the insignia of the units they were assigned to, and they would have borne the colors of the Roman army.
In modern air forces, the same is true. Jet fighters are arrayed in formation, they are formed from a frame of metal and covered in sheets of metal, they bear the insignia of the units they are assigned to, and they bear the colors of the nation they represent. For John to see jets that fly, he would have certainly termed them “locusts.”
To see the missiles and guns they employ, he would have certainly equated those things to the stings of scorpions. To see them lined up in preparation for take-off, he would certainly have equated them as horses prepared for battle. Understanding this, he then says, “On their heads were crowns of something like gold.”
Of this, Vincent’s Word Studies notes, “Not actual crowns, but as crowns. Milligan remarks that any yellow brilliancy about the head of the insect is a sufficient foundation for the figure.”
This yellow brilliancy is an exacting description of the windscreens of a modern jet fighter. They have a microns-thick layer of gold plating to reflect the IR signature of the pilot and cockpit components. When the sun shines on them from the right direction, they reflect this gold very clearly. This is described on Quora.com by Bob Keeter, Former Sr. Systems Engineer at Dept of Defense Civilian –
“The gold coloring is actually a very thin sheet of gold sandwiched between the laminated sheets of acrylic or polycarbonate plastic that forms the canopy. On the EA-6B, the golden canopies formed a Faraday cage protecting the aircrew and the cockpit instruments from the high power RF transmissions from the jamming pods.
On other aircraft, the gold foil has the same basic function for a very different reason. The cockpit has many edges, corners and radar reflective features. By providing a smooth and opaque surface, a gold foil canopy reduces the radar cross section considerably, even for non-stealthy aircraft.”
This is what John was seeing in the “crowns of something like gold.” From there, he finishes this verse with, “and their faces were like the faces of men.” Here, the word anthrōpōn is referring to the shape of humans, not specifically biological sex.
John is seeing modern jet fighters and also the shape of men in the cockpits. As their heads are covered in the helmets worn by fighter pilots, they are obscured to the point where John could only say that they are “like the faces of men.”
John is certainly seeing and writing about both close up and far distant views of these jets. This will become even more evident in the next few verses. It is as if he is watching a movie and documenting what he has seen, but he is doing so from the perspective of a man who had never seen such things, and also as a man who lived in the Middle East at the time of the Roman empire.
In the previous verses, it said that “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.” This is the exact capability of modern fighters – targeted warfare with precision-guided munitions.
Life application: For millennia, the Bible has remained an almost impossible to believe sci-fi account, or it has been over-spiritualized to indicate demonic forces that never existed and that would suddenly come upon the earth – like Godzilla monsters.
However, with modern technology, a harmonizing of what is literal and what is figurative becomes more and more evident. This doesn’t mean that we can be one hundred percent certain of every detail. But it does mean that the things described in the passage before us no longer need to be spiritualized. The events and advances of modern history and technology have finally caught up with what the Bible records.
In seeing the parallel between the two, our faith in God’s ability to provide reliable prophecy should be greatly strengthened. And as all prophecy is intended to show us what God is doing in redemptive history in relation to Jesus Christ, we should have all the more surety in our hope in Him and His promises. Let us trust Him. Let us not waiver in our faith in JESUS!
Lord God, it is especially interesting to live in this day and time when the events of the Bible are becoming much more understandable. We know that because Israel is back in her land that the Day is drawing near for these events to occur and then for the return of Jesus Christ. May that day be soon! Amen.