"The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts."
Revelation 9 is a vision given by God to John (as is the whole book of Revelation). It is full of God's wrath being poured out upon those who, "do not have the seal of God on their foreheads." It is the prelude to the return of Christ and marks the beginning of God's judgment as his wrath is being unleashed upon those who have rejected his Son and will be consummated with his return.
Firstly this is seen in the locusts who, "are given power like the power of scorpions on the earth." (Verse 3). And, "they were allowed to torment them [those who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads] for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone." (Verse 5). The suffering that comes is so intense in pain that, "in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them." (Verse 6).
Secondly it is seen in the four bound angels who are released upon the earth. They do what is in accordance with God's plan and his purpose for they are prepared, "for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, " with the task to, "kill a third of mankind." (Verse 15). The number of mounted troops they are at the head of, "was twice ten thousand times ten thousand." (Verse 16). So large a force that it will be unstoppable in carrying out its task. Especially in light of the task being given by God at the direction of angels this mass killing will be absolute in its completion. These troops "wear breastplates the colour of sapphire and sulfur" and they ride on horses whose heads "were like lions heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths." (Verses 17-18) What is amazing is what follows this horrific scene of destruction and death is not repentance. Quite to the contrary. What follows is open rebellion as mankind far from fleeing his worship of demons, and idols, and his sin, holds them even tighter and by so doing thumbs his finger at God as he defiantly rejects his Creator. "The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts."(Verses20-21)
So that is the brief outline of this chapter. So what can we learn from Revelation 9? How should it affect our lives today? I believe we can gleam the following applications from its passages:
1) God is patient and merciful by allowing mankind another minute and another day to repent of his sins and believe in Jesus. It shows the great mercy of God that he does not bring his wrath upon mankind today as he has every right to do. Instead he withholds it so that further opportunites are given for sinners to be saved as he extends his grace through the proclamation of his gospel through his Church.
2) God's wrath is nevertheless coming. It is certain and it is so intense in its pain that those who do not believe in Christ will be wishing that they were dead rather than live through it. Or as it says in another passage from Revelation they will call to the rocks and say, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come and who can stand?" (Revelation 6:16-17)
3) This wrath is just for, "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23). All have sinned against the one who gave him life and all fail to live in such a way as to treasure and and love God as he ought to be. We are all from birth self-centered people not God centered-people. What is amazing is not that God shows grace to some and not to others but that he shows grace to any at all. For no one one deserves his grace instead what we deserve is the fury of his wrath described here in this chapter from Revelation.
4) Now is the time to proclaim the gospel. We all know people who are lost. The knowledge of God's coming wrath should wake us up from any slumber and make our hearts burn with passion to share the gospel and pray with urgency for their souls.
5) Man does not seek after God. That is an illusion that has slipped into the minds of many Christians today. In Revelation 9 even after the locusts cause immense suffering and the angels and the mounted troops wipe out a third of mankind those who remain are defiant and unrepentant. It only serves to strengthen their resolve to reject the God of the bible. This is true of every person who has not been born again and received a new heart so that they now love God. For man left to himself can never come to love God and obey him but only hate God and do what ever he thinks is right in his own eyes.
Dear Christian we do not know when the end will come. We cannot presume that we have an indefinite amount of time left before judgment and wrath comes because Scripture teaches we don't. The wrath of God is imminent. It's hour and time we do not know. Let us therefore preach the gospel with great fervency and passion pleading with those who we speak to as though this is their last opportunity, for it may well be. Let the coming wrath of God give us a renewed passion to see sinners be saved from its horrible and just suffering as they are reconciled to God through the gospel message we have been entrusted to be witnesses to by God. For in his mercy he gives another day.