Serpents & Scorpions
he two primary instruments of punishment that fall upon those who dwell on the earth in the end times are seen in the trumpet judgments of Revelation, and it is in the last of these trumpet judgments we encounter the personalities that are described as Serpents and Scorpions.
While the first four trumpets are associated with stellar and/or environmental disasters (a comet impacting the sea, a darkened moon, poison water, etc) on a physical plane, the last three are characterized as "woes," and presented as militarized genetic miscreants, complete with descriptions of composite creatures with attributes from various species:
"And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions...and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. " - Revelation 9:3, 7, 8, 5
The second "woe" following these scorpion-sting creatures describes more strange entities with multiple attributes, who have the ability to bite like a Serpent:
"And thus I saw the horses in the vision...having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt." -Revelation 9:17, 19
The Language Of Metaphor
Although I have long believed we will ultimately see such bizarre evil generating massive devastation in the physical realm before the end comes, I also recognize the language of metaphor, or similitude in prophecy. Unfortunately, some think a "spiritualization" of certain prophetic texts is a form of liberalism; however, such thinking is short-sighted at best, and completely apostate at worst.
Those who assert 100% literal fulfillment of all things prophetic should carry video cameras with them, as news organization would surely pay top dollar for candid footage of the Whore of Babylon, riding on the back of a seven-headed beast! And when that great red dragon descends to chase the Remnant believers into the wilderness, hopefully someone will have a cell phone handy, so they can give a blow-by-blow account of the battle.
The question is not whether or not there are similitudes in prophecy, the question is, which passages have physical fulfillments, and which have spiritual analogs. In fact, once we realize that a figurative fulfillment actually is a physical fulfillment, and that all prophecy must have a Spiritual dimension, we've moved closer to the truth. Actually, the LORD has told us all along that He will communicate in veiled and symbolic terms:
"I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets. I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old." - Hosea 12:10, Psalm 78:2
The Entrance Of Evil
To understand this, we need to take notice of how Satan is seen in Revelation as the star that releases demonic entities at the 5th trumpet. That stars are associated with angels is seen throughout the Scriptures (Jude 1:13, Revelation 1:20), but we can also connect the chronology of these Serpents and Scorpions' introduction to the "woes" described in Revelation.
For instance, in one passage, we see when Satan is cast down unto the earth after waging war in heaven, in a loud voice, angels pronounce a woe upon "the inhabiters of the earth." Similarly, in another passage, when the "star" falls from heaven, and opens the bottomless pit to release the Serpents and the Scorpions, we also find a "loud voice" warning of a great woe "to the inhabiters of the earth."
"And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven...rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." - Revelation 12:12
"And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound! And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit." -Revelation 8:13, 9:1
I've come to see the underlying Spiritual reality is the most important aspect of these amazing prophecies, and the passages concerning Serpents and Scorpions are among the most crucial. What is particularly significant is how Jesus Christ Himself connected these prophecies in Revelation to the authority He gives to His followers. For instance, in the Gospel of Luke, Christ has sent out 70 disciples to make converts of the "lost sheep" of Israel. When they returned, they were very excited as they had learned that JESUS had given them power over all the devils that sought to thwart their evangelistic mission:
"And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name." - Luke 10:17
It is in Christ's response to this report that we find a seemingly bewildering statement, for in the very next verse, we learn that
"...he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." - Luke 10:18
Although the LORD's words appear a bit abruptly, and the context seems somewhat disjointed, it is His next statement that ties it all together:
"Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you." - Luke 10:19
To put it another way, Jesus connects the introduction of the devilish spirits the disciples have been given dominion over, to the fall of the star from heaven, and the opening of the bottomless pit. Incredibly, Christ's words were spoken about 60 years before John wrote the book of Revelation where we find these amazing images!
The Serpents And The Scorpions
Since Jesus gives His disciples (then and now) the "power to tread on serpents and scorpions," we need to recognize these have Spiritual identities, and a clear association with "the devils" the disciples had just referenced. Thus, these references supercede all temporal timelines, for these evil spirits existed at the time of Christ, and they will continue to move through human vessels all the way to the second coming of the LORD. As Revelation shows us, they are clustered in two primary groups which, for the sake of simplicity, may be identified as the Serpents and the Scorpions.
A word search on the word locusts, which have the Scorpion sting, references multiple creatures that all consume the possessions of the people. These are seen as the cankerworm, the caterpillar, the palmerworm, and of course, the locust. In fact, the prophet Joel calls this group a "great army" the LORD will send:
"And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I send among you." - Joel 2:25
This description, along with many, many others, tells us the Scorpion stinging locusts represent those who devour the substance, or take a spoil. In short, they are driven by the love of money. In this regard, we may view Judas Iscariot as a prime example of this principal identification. Indeed, the New Testament is filled with examples of those whose god is money, so the collective appetite-driven betrayers in the last generation are identified as the Scorpions.
The second group in Revelation, the Serpents, are those whose words bring death. In the Garden of Eden, the Serpent's words were described as "subtle." In Revelation, we are introduced to the second beast who looks like a lamb, but speaks like a dragon - also known as a Serpent:
"...and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon." - Revelation 13:1
In the Gospels, Jesus plainly identifies the Serpents as those whose doctrine serves their own will, rather than the will of the Father, that was manifested in His only begotten Son:
"Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" - Matthew 23:33
These are religionists who refuse to acknowledge the true Gospel, and thus demonstrate they are of "their father the devil" (John 8:44). The Pharisaical Serpents Christ rebuked are but one strain of those who propagate
"...every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive." - Ephesians 4:14
The third group in this strange trio in Revelation is the multitude - a group that I recognize as the Apostate Church (Revelation 18:2). This is the end times Babylon the "Church" has become, and we have been urgently instructed to come out of her. Thus, that which is described in Zechariah addresses these identifications:
"And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried...." - Zechariah 13:8
The multitude is seen in Revelation, and they will indeed be brought through the fire that is generated by these two evil factions - both of which are scheduled to be "cut off" and killed. In this fashion, the symbiotic relationship between the Serpents and the Scorpions is the same as that co-dependency which is seen in the two beasts of Revelation 13 - the Antichrist and the False Prophet. In the union of the two, as they devastate the multitude, the true Remnant of Jesus Christ will persevere and overcome the Beast by the blood of the lamb, and the word of their testimony.
- James Lloyd
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