Exegetical look into Revelation 9: 18-21

  • Breastplates. The breastplate at this time was a “coat of mail” of inner woven rings of brass laid over leather that protected the soldier; arrows could easily pierce it.
  • Out of their mouths came fire. The Parthians used flaming arrows made from canvases and wood that easily destroyed villages (1 Kings 1:10-12; Rev. 11:5).
  • Fiery red, dark blue/sapphire. This is the color of burning sulfur; these images are used to invoke fear, as fire especially in its ferocity is a “primal fear.” 
  • Heads of lions.  Also a primal fear; No unarmed, normal human can meet a lion and live. Lions were a symbol of power and were also used as a means of God’s judgment (2 Kings 17:25-26; 1 Chron. 12:8; 2 Chron. 9:17-21; Jer. 50:17).
  • In their tails. May refer to the arrows of the Parthian’s rear cavalry or an unknown means of delivery of God’s judgment. This perhaps underscores the demonic source of the horses, over which God is still in control.
  • Like snakes. This may refer to thievery and those who are a clear and present danger (Rev. 12:9).
  • They did not stop worshiping demons. This metaphor also alludes to the worship of idols who can’t move, talk, or respond, and who are made and controlled by man. Such idols and those who make and follow them are worthless and powerless and can do nothing but look pretty (Psalm 135:15-18; Isa. 46:6-7; 1 Cor. 10:20). This also refers to fallen angels working with Satan to bring and bear evil manipulation on humanity (Duet. 4:28; Psalm 115:5-7; 1 Cor. 10:20).
  • Still did not repent indicates that the people are “stupid” and have no excuse. They had some warning, either by prophets, by the clear teaching of the Word, or by some supernatural pronouncement. They knew their deeds were wrong, yet they refused to acknowledge Christ or repent of their ways even in the face of catastrophes. In addition, if they repented, they would be spared their calamities, yet they refused… talk about being hardheaded (Ex. 7:22-23; 8:10; 9:14-29; 10:2; 14:4; Amos 4:6-11; Rev. 2:14; chaps 10-11; 16:9-11)!
  • Magic arts / sorceries refers to any kind of witchcraft or sorcery being brought together. The word denoting magic arts also means, “mix in” (pharmakon) and is where we get our English word pharmacy. In Acts, there was some repentance of this, but not usually (Acts 19:19).

 

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