What does “death shall flee from them” mean?

And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.” Revelation 9:6

The passage says death shall flee from men and the commentators take it to either mean a longing for death or, some, a supernatural withholding of it. Death is universal and in the very same chapter one-third of mankind dies (v. 18). But if the general power of death is briefly suspended perhaps it is because the souls of the damned can’t be conveniently pulled down into hell as long as the bottomless pit remains open (v. 1).

But I think the answer is simpler than that. When the locusts attack men their sting not only creates intense pain but also creates a paralysis so that the victim is immobilized yet remains conscience and fully aware of what is happening. That would enable the locusts to feed upon the men by sucking their blood without killing them. Like insects caught by a wasp or spider, men would feel the painful stings of the blood sucking locusts and be able to do nothing but endure the horror of being feasted upon while the monsters’ poison keeps man’s vital organs alive.

Hence men – meaning the men who end up being stung by the locusts – would long to die, yet will not be able to die, so death would essentially flee from them.

Revelation 9:1-11 about these strange locusts:

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. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. 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 it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. 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 they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.”



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