“But the people who did not die in these plagues still refused
to repent of their evil deeds and turn to God.”
Thoughts… This chapter in Revelation continues the story of the horrifying judgment that is being unleashed upon the world at the end of time. Though the devastation is unspeakable, it is deserved. God has patiently withheld his righteous wrath for the cumulative evil that has characterized the earth since the fall of man, but now his judgment has rightly fallen.
God’s judgment has two purposes. The first is to cause people to repent and turn to him. The second is to punish unrepentant people for their wickedness. God prefers that divine punishment would be redemptive, but when it is not, he will not withhold its punitive purpose.
What is truly amazing about sinful humanity, which we observe in this chapter, is that even under such harsh punishment, there is a stubborn refusal to repent and turn to God. People clearly know that they are suffering judgment from God, and there is no doubt as to why his righteous anger has been unleashed, yet they are so thoroughly prideful, arrogant, and stiff-necked in their rebellion against God that they would just as soon die in their wickedness as to acknowledge their sin and change. As someone has said, hell will be populated with people who are not remorseful, but resentful and defiant. (See also Revelation 16:8-11,21)
Now Christians will not be a part of the judgment described here in Revelation 9. My own theology leads me to believe that we will have a front row seat from the galleries of heaven as this is taking place on earth. So then, is there any personal application of this chapter for us in the here and now? How should this make a difference in my life today?
Perhaps the best application would be that the fate of these unrepentant people would cause us to evaluate our own attitude toward God’s discipline. When pain and hardship come our way, do we stubbornly refuse to consider the possibility that God may be trying to get our attention? This is not to say that all pain is punishment, but the wise of heart will take a long, hard look inside to see what wicked way God may be trying to reveal and remove.
C. S. Lewis wrote in “The Problem of Pain”,
“Because we are rebels against God who must lay down our arms, our other pains may indeed constitute God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world to surrender. There is a universal feeling that bad people ought to suffer: without a concept of ‘retribution’, punishment is rendered unjust, (what can be more immoral than to inflict suffering on me for the sake of deterring others if I do not deserve it?). But until the evil person finds evil unmistakably present in his or her existence, in the form of pain, we are enclosed in illusion. Pain, as God’s megaphone, gives us the only opportunity we may have for amendment. It plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul. All of us are aware that it is very hard to turn our thoughts to God when things are going well. To ‘have all we want’ is a terrible saying when ‘all’ does not include God. We regard him as we do a heart-lung machine—there for emergencies, but we hope we’ll never have to use it. So God troubles our selfishness, which stands between us and the recognition of our need. God’s divine humility stoops to conquer, even if we choose him merely as an alternative to hell. Yet even this he accepts!”
My suggestion to you would be that you would consider whatever pain, hardship or discomfort in your life right now as God’s invitation to further surrender your life to him.
That kind of surrender is always a good thing!
Prayer… Father, make my heart tender before you. Let no stubbornness keep me from a repentant and pliable spirit. I humbly submit my life to you, and ask you to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Totally transform me into the person you desire me to be.
One More Thing… “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” —C.S. Lewis