“The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. They had what looked like gold crowns on their heads, and their faces looked like human faces. They had hair like women’s hair and teeth like the teeth of a lion. They wore armor made of iron, and their wings roared like an army of chariots rushing into battle. They had tails that stung like scorpions, and for five months they had the power to torment people. Their king is the angel from the bottomless pit; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon—the Destroyer.” Revelation 9:7-11
These demons are described as locusts because they bring massive, devastating, rapid judgment from God. John can give only an approximation of what this spiritual army looked like, as the repeated use of the terms “like” (used eight times in this passage) and “appeared to be” indicates. To describe the supernatural and unfamiliar demon horde, John chooses natural and familiar analogies. The general appearance of the locusts was “like horses prepared for battle.” They were warlike, powerful, and defiant, like horses straining at the bit and pawing the ground in their eagerness to charge forward on their mission of death. On their heads John saw what appeared to be crowns like gold. The crowns they wore are victors’ crowns, indicating that the demon host will be invincible. People will have no weapon that can harm them and no cure for the terrible torment they inflict. That their faces were like the faces of men indicates they are rational beings, not actual insects. The description of their hair as being like the hair of women likely emphasizes their seductiveness. The glory or beauty of a woman is her hair, which she may decorate to become more alluring. Having teeth like the teeth of lions, they will be fierce and powerful, tearing apart their victims. Breastplates of iron, designed to protect the vital organs of the soldier, here symbolize the demon horde’s invulnerability. In a further metaphor drawn from the battlefield, John compares the sound of their wings to a moving army, noting that it “was like the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to battle. These demonic “locusts” have a “king,” who is the angel of the Abyss (Revelation 9:11). In Hebrew his name is Abaddon, and in Greek it’s Apollyon, meaning “Destroyer”.