What do you get when you mix a sci-fi movie with a horror movie? Answer: Revelation 9. The first 12 verses describe tormenting locusts unlocked from the Abyss. They remind me of ‘Dementors’ from the Harry Potter series. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Remus Lupin tells Harry Potter about Dementors. They are described in the following manner:
“Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them… Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself…soulless and evil. You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.
The wicked locusts in Revelation 9 are much like ‘Dementors.’ They are released to torment humanity for five months. Their description is ominous. What stands out to me is that they have stingers on the tails like scorpions. I have not been stung by a scorpion, but I have been stung by bees and wasps. I once was stung by 4 wasps at the same time. It felt like I got electrocuted when it happened and my legs ached for hours afterwards.
These tormenting locusts have a king named ‘Abaddon’ in Hebrew and ‘Apollyon’ in Greek. The names mean ‘destroyer’ and ‘place of destruction’ respectively. Here is another parallel with the Harry Potter series. The figure, Lord Voldemort, is the most powerful Dark Wizard. He is the Chief Death Eater who is in control of the Death Eaters and Dementors. His name means “ambassador of death.” Lord Voldemort seeks followers, destroys those who oppose him, and desires to control the world. Sound familiar?
Obviously, John is using pictorial language, as does the Harry Potter series. However, tormenting locust and the king of the abyss in Revelation 9 are symbolic of real spiritual entities – demons and Satan. They are dark forces of evil preying upon humanity. The biblical world is a world at war with spiritual forces of evil. Most good movies like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter employ the cosmic theme of good vs. evil. What makes these movies so popular is that we all are aware that the perennial theme of good vs. evil reflects world history and our own personal struggles. We sometimes forget or wish to deny that the Bible affirms a spiritual realm of darkness. C. S. Lewis reminds us that earth in now ‘enemy occupied territory.’ He makes the astute observation that:
“There are two equal opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.”
The Bible gives us clear teaching about spiritual warfare. First, the war is real and we need to arm ourselves (Eph. 610-18). There is a fierce battle going on between God’s Kingdom & Satan’s Kingdom. The Battle started in heaven but continues on earth (Gen. 3:15; Rev. 12:7-17). The world is now under siege from the Kingdom of Darkness (1 Jn. 5:19; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2; 6:12). Satan is a thief who seeks only to steal, kill and destroy us (Jn. 10:10). Second, the Bible also tells us that the One who is in us [the Spirit of Jesus] is greater than the one in the world (1 Jn. 4:4).
Revelation 9 reflects this truth. Just as the children of Israel were spared the plagues of Egypt by the blood of the lamb on their doorposts, so, too, Revelation 9 notes that those marked by the seal of the lamb on their foreheads will be protected from the tormenting locusts. Paul says much the same thing in Ephesians. There he tells the Ephesians: “When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory” (1:13b-14). John, the writer of Revelation, consoles the persecuted Church with the reminder that those sealed by God’s Spirit will overcome the evil spirits in the world. Those without God’s Spirit are open to attack from the Enemy. The angel of destruction may be passing over, but those sealed with God’s Spirit shall prevail when all hell breaks loose. Rest assured, the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.