Osborne, Grant R. Revelation. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002. Location: Ellis BS 2825.53.O73 2002
III. God in Majesty and Judgment (4:1-16:21) pp. 218-602.
F. God’s Sovereignty in Judgment (4:1-11:19) pp. 219-450.
3. Seven Trumpets (8:2-11:19) pp. 339-450.
c. “Fifth Trumpet/First Woe (8:13-9:11)” pp. 358-375.
Revelation’s “trumpet judgments” continue in 8:13. Osborne notes that the first four judgments were directed against the earth but the remaining three are focused on people who reject God. Some confusion exists because the trumpets are no longer the focus but each judgment is introduced by a prophecy of “woe” (Osborne 2002, 358).
In Revelation 8:13, an eagle shouts out a message of woe. Then, immediately afterward, an angel sounds a trumpet and there is a star which falls and opens a locked abyss, from which pours smoke and some locust-like creatures which harm people for five months (Osborne 2002, 359). The bird, an eagle or vulture, proclaims “woe” three times, which Osborne interprets as the opposite to the threefold “holy” in Revelation 4:8 (Osborne 2002, 360). The message is clearly that of sorrow because of God’s judgment.
The work of the locust-like creatures, Osborne notes, is just as harmful to their allies as to their opponents. At the same time, God is in control of the entire scene (Osborne 2002, 361). The cretures are released by a “star,” which Osborne recalls is a term sometimes used to denote an angel. While some have argued that this is an evil, fallen angel, Osborne thinks not, as no other fallen angel is used in Revelation to do God’s will (Osborne 2002, 362). The angel, having received the key to the prison, releases a plague of locusts. This is done at God’s command, bringing darkness due to a dense cloud of smoke (Osborne 2002, 363). From the cloud comes a plague of locusts, a common image of God’s judgment in the Old Testament. Osborne describes several plagues of locusts, including those in modern times (Osborne 2002, 364). These locusts were given power to bring judgment. Osborne notes that apart from God’s permission, nothing happens, but that he here “simply allows their will to express itself” (Osborne 2002, 365). It is clear from the description that these are not normal locusts, but demonic attackers. They do not harm vegetation, which has already been damaged, but rather they attack people who have not repented at God’s call (Osborne 2002, 366). Despite the focus of the attack, the locusts are not to kill their victims but to torment them for five months. Osborne notes that this is a long time, as locust plagues typically last a few days (Osborne 2002, 367). However, it is not an endless assault, possibly allowing for repentance rather than leading necessarily to endless torment of God’s final judgment. As a result of the scorpions, some would beg for death, which ,as Osborne observes, is not really the proper responsibility of humans, whose days are numbered by God (Osborne 2002, 368).
The locusts are certainly described as unusual creatures. The imagery is that of a locust, a scorpion, and an army, all of which are used as illustrations of God’s judgment in various passages of the Old Testament. Osborne particularly notes the army imagery is reminiscent of the Roman army (Osborne 2002, 369). The elements of the locusts’ appearance have been interpreted so as to describe certain people groups or pieces of military technology, but Osborne finds this unnecessarily complicated. For instance, crowns indicate victory. Human faces on locusts indicate taking authority which goes against nature (Osborne 2002, 370). The sight and sound described would be utterly terrifying, as the people would be confronted with signs that any reasonable persn would associate with impending defeat (Osborne 2002, 372).
Unlike regular locusts, which, in Proverbs 30, “have no king” (v. 27), these have a ruler, “the angel of the abyss” (Osborne 2002, 373). Osborne suggests this is a servant of Satan who was held captive in the abyss. This individual is called “the destroyer,” though many English versions leave the term untranslated. Osborne considers the fact that the description of the leader may be a reference to a political and military enemy, such as possibly Domitian, but that the reference is cryptic and cannot be specifically applied to one human with crtainty (Osborne 2002, 374).