HELL ON EARTH
I thank You, God, for Your mercy and grace in not punishing our sin because of Jesus, and I thank You for Your gift of forgiveness.
Read Revelation 9
9 The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. 2 When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. 3 And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. 4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 They were not allowed to kill them but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes. 6 During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.
7 The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. 8 Their hair was like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. 9 They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. 10 They had tails with stingers, like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. 11 They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon and in Greek is Apollyon (that is, Destroyer).
12 The first woe is past; two other woes are yet to come.
13 The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the four horns of the golden altar that is before God. 14 It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” 15 And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. 16 The number of the mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand. I heard their number.
17 The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur. 18 A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths. 19 The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.
20 The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. 21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectTry to picture what John is seeing.
The first four trumpets inflicted destruction on the earth (chapter 8); the fifth and sixth affect the people, and as warned (8:13), worse is about to happen to “those on the earth”—the non-believers, those without the seal of God (4). There is such physical and spiritual agony that those suffering long for death (6), yet they still do not repent and turn to God (20,21).
And yet God’s mercy is shown in two ways—the time of the agony is limited (5) and death is not available as an escape (6). There are things worse than death and God wants to give every possible opportunity for true repentance. When the angels are released by God’s voice (13,14), the devastation begins. It seems almost unbelievable that people would see the wrath of God and still not repent, but their hearts were so hardened they were unable to respond to him (20,21).
How should these verses affect how you view the world today? How might they shape the vision of your church?
There are more terrible scenes to come in Revelation. But there are also deeply glorious revelations of the heavenly throne room and the unveiling of Jesus. It’s spectacularly exciting.
Look back over the past 24 hours and ask God to point out times when you have failed him or not put the things of his kingdom first. Humbly confess these. Choose to live differently today.
Lord, soften my heart toward You. Shape me, mold me, make me into what You would have me be.