What does Revelation 9:9 mean?
ESV: they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle.
NIV: 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.
NASB: They had breastplates like breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to battle.
CSB: they had chests like iron breastplates; the sound of their wings was like the sound of many chariots with horses rushing into battle;
NLT: They wore armor made of iron, and their wings roared like an army of chariots rushing into battle.
KJV: And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.
John's vision includes the spectacle of Satan releasing a horde of locust-like demons from the bottomless pit. Their purpose is to bring five months of excruciating pain, but not death, on nonbelievers. This passage fleshes out more details about their appearance, which includes a horse-like shape, human-like faces and hair, and lion-like teeth. The locusts' thoraxes resemble horses' armor plates, making them appear invulnerable. The noise of their flight, being so dense, resembles the loud sound of chariots and horses rushing into battle.
Obviously, John's vision of future events leaves room for interpretation. Some passages in this writing seem extremely literal (Revelation 1:11), others clearly figurative (Revelation 7:1). Since this throng of locusts is demonic, interpreters differ on whether what John sees here is a literal vision, a metaphor, or possibly an attempt for an ancient writer to describe modern technology.
Some Bible teachers see this invasion of locusts as an end-times military invasion of infantry and heavily armed helicopters. The breastplates, they say, depict the armored fronts of the helicopters, and the loud noise is that of the numerous helicopters in flight. Obviously, the Bible predates modern warfare, and it would have been meaningless to believers in John's day and those of pre-modern times to use the term "helicopters." This could even, possibly, be a military technology that doesn't exist as of the time this commentary is being written. However, the description John provides fits the description of modern warfare, and so does Joel's description in Joel 2:5: "As with the rumbling of chariots, they leap on the tops of the mountains, like the crackling of a flame of fire devouring the stubble, like a powerful army drawn up for battle."
It is not beyond reason to perceive of the northern invader as rushing into Israel with helicopters and other military resources. The interpretation, of course, cannot be dogmatic. Prior verses seem to imply a narrow role for these "locusts" (Revelation 9:4–5), one not easily explained as a military operation.
Revelation 9:7–12 more thoroughly describes the locust-like beings which ascend from the bottomless pit. They appear like horses galloping into battle. They have something on their heads resembling crowns. Their faces are humanlike; their hair is like women's hair; and they have teeth like lions' teeth. Their chests seem to be iron plated, and the noise of their wings sounds like chariots and horses rushing into battle. They torment humans for five months, and their leader is Apollyon. Joel 2:1–11 prophesies an invasion of locusts, sharing similarities to the description in this passage, and adding details some suggest are references to modern machines of war.
Revelation 9 tells us that under the fifth trumpet judgment John sees a star fall from heaven to earth. This ''star'' is Satan, and he is given the key to the bottomless pit. Using this key, Satan unleashes a plague of supernatural demons resembling locusts. They torment unbelievers for five months with such pain that people seek death unsuccessfully. They appear like horses prepared for battle, and they have a king, whose name is Apollyon, meaning ''Destroyer.'' Under the sixth trumpet judgment John sees four angels released from the Euphrates river. Their release coincides with a horde of two hundred million demonic mounted troops that kill a third of mankind. However, the survivors refuse to abandon their idolatry and to repent of their evil deeds.
The ninth chapter of Revelation continues the report of what happens when the seven angels blow their trumpets. Chapter 8 described the first four trumpet judgments; chapter 9 reports the fifth and sixth. The events in chapter 9 are much more severe than those which came before. The severity of judgments increases dramatically with each trumpet blast. These judgments precede the final series of events, called the bowl judgments. Revelation chapters 15 and 16 will reveal what happens under these judgments.
The word ''revelation'' means ''an unveiling or disclosure.'' This writing unveils future events such as the rapture, three series of judgments that will fall on the earth during the tribulation, the emergence of the Antichrist, the persecution of Israel and her amazing revival, as well as Jesus' second coming with His saints to the earth, the judgment of Satan and his followers, and finally, the eternal state. This content, combined with the original Greek term apokalypsis, is why we now refer to an end-of-the-world scenario as ''an apocalypse.''
Accessed 11/30/2023 6:25:07 AM
© Copyright 2002-2023 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.