After millennia of captivity, the vile demons would no doubt want to give full vent to all of their pent-up evil by slaughtering people. Certainly Satan would want to kill all the unregenerate to keep them from repenting. But God, in His mercy, will give people torment for five months (the normal life span of locusts, usually from May to September), during which they cannot die but will be given the opportunity to repent and embrace the gospel.2This verse frustrates those who attempt to interpret the judgment as involving an army of human origin, for what army on earth has ever resisted killing the enemy?to torment them for five months
The duration of the plague is fixed. It is to last “five months.” A similar fixed date is given in Numbers 11:19-20: “a whole month.” In 2 Samuel 24:13, also we have “seven years,” “three months,” and “three days,” as the fixed limit of certain judgments. These periods are always taken literally. Why not this? The time limit of these infernal locusts corresponds with that of ordinary locusts, which is five months (from May to September).4like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man
1 Concerning God’s use of evil for His own purposes: Jdg. 9:23; 1S. 18:10; 1K. 22:22; 2K. 19:7; 2Chr. 18:21; Job 1:12; 2:6; Isa. 37:7; Mat. 4:1; Luke 22:31; John 19:11; 1Cor. 5:5; 1Ti. 1:20; 2Cor. 12:7; Rev. 2:10+; 9:5+; 9:15+; 16:14+; 17:17+; 20:3+; 20:8+.
2 John MacArthur, Revelation 1-11 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), Rev. 9:5.
3 Henry Morris, The Revelation Record (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983), Rev. 9:5.
4 E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935), Rev. 9:5.
5 Britannica CD 99 Multimedia Edition, s.v. “scorpion.”