The rest of mankind did not repent of the works of their hands
Revelation 9 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Then the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him.2 He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit. 3 Then out of the smoke came locusts upon the earth, and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 4 They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months; and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a man. 6 And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death flees from them.
7 The appearance of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle; and on their heads appeared to be crowns like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. 8 They had hair like the hair of women, and their teeth were like the teeth of lions. 9 They had breastplates like breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to battle. 10 They have tails like scorpions, and stings; and in their tails is their power to hurt men for five months. 11 They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon.
12 The first woe is past; behold, two woes are still coming after these things.
13 Then the sixth angel sounded, and I heard [j]a voice from the [k]four horns of the golden altar which is before God, 14 one saying 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 prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released, so that they would kill a third of [l]mankind. 16 The number of the armies of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them.17 And this is how I saw in the vision the horses and those who sat on them: the riders had breastplates the color of fire and of hyacinth and of brimstone; and the heads of the horses are like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths proceed fire and smoke and brimstone. 18 A third of mankind was killed by these three plagues, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which proceeded out of their mouths. 19 For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents and have heads, and with them they do harm.
20 The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; 21 and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.
The description of the plagues that will come upon the earth are filled with imagery. We must remember that John is describing things which will happen in a future time, things which still have not occurred. He is shown, understands and describes these future things and events in things which are familiar to him. We may not be able to fully discern and interpret what these things are, but we can know their purpose. The text says: The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts. God’s purpose in all that He does and all that He allows toward man is to cause them to repent. 2 Peter 3:9 says: The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. God desires that all would come to know His grace; His love demonstrated and displayed in the cross and Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. The time He is giving before His return is His grace. It is so that none would perish; that in response to His kindness and grace they would repent. Romans 2:4-11 says: Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. We have a choice then whether to respond to God’s kindness and grace or to bear the consequences of disobedience. Romans 11:22-23 says: Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
The judgment of God; His wrath is not directed toward people, but rather He judges sin. His desire is that none should perish. He reveals His kindness, His mercy, His grace and His love so that in response people would repent. For those who reject His kindness and grace, for those who reject the demonstration of His love, that as Romans 5:8 says: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, they are left with His judgment against the sin they have chosen. If the kindness of God, His mercy, His grace and His love is not enough to cause people to repent and turn to Him, perhaps the severity of life without Him and His kindness, mercy, grace and love will.
There is a song written by Brian Doerksen, “Come Now is the Time to Worship”, which says:
Come, now is the time to worship
Come, now is the time
To give your heart
Come, just as you are to worship
Come, just as you are
Before your God
One day every
Tongue will confess
You are God
One day every knee will bow
Still the greatest treasure
Remains for those
Who gladly choose You now
Indeed every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. Why not choose Him now? Why not choose to respond to His kindness, His mercy, His grace and His love? He has given time to repent, so why not now? Surely it is better to know and respond to His kindness than to know the severity of a life without Him.
May this song be your prayer and response to the kindness and grace of God: