And Still They Would Not Repent
What is truly amazing for the Christian to behold is the willful stubbornness of sinful man. Revelation shows us this in stark colors in chapter nine. We are bewildered at how men can endure such turmoil and still not turn to God. It is similar to reading about the Pharisees in the gospels, wagging our heads at their trivial rules that get in the way of human need, or their blatant hypocrisies that are exposed by Jesus. But if we are not careful, we find ourselves sitting in judgment, not remembering that we were at one time “separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus [we] who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12-13). We wag our heads at our peril. Our only plea before the throne of grace is just that – grace. Were it not for our Lord’s calling us out of darkness and into His marvelous light, our sinful natures would make our hearts just as hard and our eyes just as blind as those we pity in this passage.
The command is given to release the four angels bound at the River Euphrates. They lead another hideous horde against unbelieving man, but these are allowed to kill one-third of mankind, whereas the locusts of the previous vision were only allowed to harm. We are told something very significant about when these four angels were released: they were released on the hour, the day, the month, and the year for which their dreadful work was prepared. If it be asked, “Prepared by whom?” Revelation, and the rest of Scripture, answers, “Prepared by the Almighty.” These judgments upon mankind are God’s judgments, and these awful agents are His agents. That does not mean that these hideous beasts are God’s pets. It does mean that all things are His creations and that each thing or being was created by Him for a particular purpose. These creatures serve God’s purpose in judgment, and what God will do with them after that is His business.
But the significant point about this entire chapter is the sorry way it ends: “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands….” So we learn that one of the purposes of God’s dreadful judgments is that man might repent. If he does not, he has no one to blame but himself. We see that God is doing so much to warn sinful men; He still is. God’s works of both judgment and mercy are before all people everyday to behold and ponder. May the Church be so discerning that she may know what God is doing in her day.