We all have loved ones who will not come back to God, preferring to live selfish lives doing anything and everything to satisfy their never ending insatiable desires to be the center of attention. They will fail at business because God was not in it and wonder why. They will arrogantly claw and fight their way to the top positions in their work, (or in their church work), over the backs of humble people who are trusting God. They will lie and gossip about others thinking they are making themselves look better. Selfishness breeds jealousy, envy, paranoia, pride, fear of losing things, and the people who give them things.
Sefishness trusts only in what they can see, touch and taste. The selfish trust only in themselves, not caring who they hurt, becoming mere hourly survivors, who become dangerous to all others in the community. There is no plan for the selfish other than to satisfy their immediate need. What they don’t know or comprehend is that need is to be loved and accepted by the One and Only who created them. So, the selfish pursue this immediate need in all the wrong places. Just like the old country song says, “Looking for love in all the wrong places” when God was there, all the times, waiting with outstretched arms.
How bad does it have to get in the lives of the selfish to understand that God loved them all along, still does and longs to have a true, intimate relationship with Him? How long, O Lord?, we pray…
In the next passage of revelation, death takes a holiday. People who do not have seal of God upon them are tortured, but still will not give in to God and what He has for them. The passage closes with some powerful, but disheartening words, “There wasn’t a sign of a change of heart.” O Lord, how bad does it have to get? You are revealing that to us today…
Revelation 9, The Message
1-2 The fifth Angel trumpeted. I saw a Star plummet from Heaven to earth. The Star was handed a key to the Well of the Abyss. He unlocked the Well of the Abyss—smoke poured out of the Well, billows and billows of smoke, sun and air in blackout from smoke pouring out of the Well.
3-6 Then out of the smoke crawled locusts with the venom of scorpions. They were given their orders: “Don’t hurt the grass, don’t hurt anything green, don’t hurt a single tree—only men and women, and then only those who lack the seal of God on their foreheads.” They were ordered to torture but not kill, torture them for five months, the pain like a scorpion sting. When this happens, people are going to prefer death to torture, look for ways to kill themselves. But they won’t find a way—death will have gone into hiding.
7-11 The locusts looked like horses ready for war. They had gold crowns, human faces, women’s hair, the teeth of lions, and iron breastplates. The sound of their wings was the sound of horse-drawn chariots charging into battle. Their tails were equipped with stings, like scorpion tails. With those tails they were ordered to torture the human race for five months. They had a king over them, the Angel of the Abyss. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, in Greek, Apollyon—“Destroyer.”
12 The first doom is past. Two dooms yet to come.
13-14 The sixth Angel trumpeted. I heard a voice speaking to the sixth Angel from the horns of the Golden Altar before God: “Let the Four Angels loose, the Angels confined at the great River Euphrates.”
15-19 The Four Angels were untied and let loose, Four Angels all prepared for the exact year, month, day, and even hour when they were to kill a third of the human race. The number of the army of horsemen was twice ten thousand times ten thousand. I heard the count and saw both horses and riders in my vision: fiery breastplates on the riders, lion heads on the horses breathing out fire and smoke and brimstone. With these three weapons—fire and smoke and brimstone—they killed a third of the human race. The horses killed with their mouths and tails; their serpentlike tails also had heads that wreaked havoc.
20-21 The remaining men and women who weren’t killed by these weapons went on their merry way—didn’t change their way of life, didn’t quit worshiping demons, didn’t quit centering their lives around lumps of gold and silver and brass, hunks of stone and wood that couldn’t see or hear or move. There wasn’t a sign of a change of heart. They plunged right on in their murderous, occult, promiscuous, and thieving ways.
What do we learn?
–There IS a chance of turning back to God, even in the Tribulation. Don’t give up praying for our lost family and friends or anyone else!!
–God allows for the selfish to ride it out and live with the consequences.
–Sin does not prevail.
–God wins in the end…no matter what. Hold on to that thought as we journey through the Revelation of our King, Jesus Christ.
Dear Heavenly Father, This passage reminds us to be more focused in our praying for our family members who are lost without You. It shows our own sin of wanting more as we think more of ourselves at times. Help me to be more like you and less like my natural self. Our hope is in You. In Jesus Name, Amen