My dog, Flash, is fun but dumb. Whenever I try and get him to fetch, I
point at the ball. But Flash won’t look at the ball--he only looks at my
finger. And then licks it. He gets infatuated with the pointer, and
misses the point.
Revelation 9′s description of these demonic locusts may well lead us
to play the dog. Many commentators have been caught up in trying to
ascertain who the locusts are—Saracens? Parthians? Modern enemies of
America?—but all of these suggestions miss the point, as do fanciful
postulations like “maybe John saw Apache helicopters?!”
The ancient Hebrews had several words for locust: shearer, swarmer,
galloper, creaker, swallower, and finisher. Simply put, when a swarm of
locusts came through—in columns a hundred feet deep and four miles
long—it was the single-most devastating visitation in the world. For
example, after a locust infestation in Algiers in 1886, 200,000 people
starved to death due to the famine that followed. Normally, locusts eat
all the region’s vegetation and are harmless to people; but here, John
tells us that the locusts are re-directed toward people and instructed
to leave the vegetation alone. They are like scorpions, proverbially the
most hostile pest to humankind.
So what’s the point?
Simple: repentance. The trumpets blow to call the people of the world to repent. The trumpets sound to shake them to penitence.
But they miss the point. No one repents.
Let’s not make the same mistake.