Refuse to Repent

Revelation 9

Revelation 9 20a NIV

If you haven’t found out by now, Revelation is a strange letter; there are all sorts of images and visions that don’t quite make sense to us most of the time. In chapter nine, things get much stranger, as we see some terrifying images of God’s judgment being sent upon unrepentant people that have killed God’s people (i.e. Christians). However, strange as it may be, this chapter is absolutely crucial to understanding what John is trying to communicate throughout the whole letter. There is a key theme that needs to be drawn out if we are to understand what John is talking about.

 

In chapter eight, we saw angels getting ready to blow seven trumpets that would bring about God’s judgment, in response to the prayers that God had heard from His people back in chapter six. When we come to chapter nine, the fifth trumpet is blown, bringing about this terrifying, demonic locust army that goes around tormenting people for five months. They look strange, sound strange, and behave in a strange manner. There have been many theories about what these locusts are, but I don’t believe John’s focus is on who or what these locusts are; they are more of a background image than anything.

 

John’s main point is found at the end of the chapter, after the sixth trumpet is blown. In 9:20-21, we learn that, even though all these terrible and strange things are happening to these people, they still refuse to repent and change their lives. That is the point of John’s message of the trumpets; even God bringing His fiercest and most terrifying judgment on people is not enough to get them to repent. We saw a similar situation in Exodus, when Pharaoh refused to repent, even though God brought 10 plagues on the land. This is also John’s point with the later seven bowls (16:10-11), and likely the point of the previous seals as well.

 

The question that we, as the readers, are left with is, “What will make people repent?” That question will be answered in chapter 11, when we are introduced to the Two Witnesses.

 

For you today, I encourage you to think about the way that you spread the gospel to others. What will work better? Preaching about God’s judgment and condemnation, or offering hope and encouragement? If God’s righteous judgment isn’t enough to bring about repentance in people’s hearts in Revelation, don’t assume that it will work for you either. Let’s offer a hope that is focused on the love of the cross and a merciful God that has offered His own Son for us all! Let’s preach the good news!

 

Talon Paul

The Best Influence

acts 16 9

ACTS 16

As Paul and his group were traveling around what is modern day Turkey they kept having messages from the holy spirit telling them that they were not allowed to preach in that area, and that they need to go farther, and eventually led them to Greece.  With this the Gospel made its first direct contact with the “Western World” in the city of Philippi. It is here that Paul converts Lydia who is the first known convert in Europe. As they were going along and preaching Paul got in trouble with some of the local officials and they were thrown in prison because of a popular uprising against them.  It was in this prison that Paul and Silas were singing praises to God after being beaten, and an earthquake came and freed them, but they stayed and preached to the jailor instead of running away. Because of their unusual behavior and their powerful message the jailor believed and his whole family was baptized.

 

Throughout this story we see that the people that Paul spends the most time with and interacts with one on one are the ones that he has the most influence on.  Lydia and the jailor both spend time with Paul and invite him to their homes and listen to his message and believe. The leaders of the city who get mad at Paul only see how his message is disrupting their business and how their culture and religion is different from their own and throw them out of town.  In my experience this seems to hold true, that the people you spend time with are the ones that you are going to impact the most for Christ. Many people will post on social media about different parts of Christian culture or parts of their Christian life, but to unbelievers seeing that, all they see is that you are different, just like the city leaders in Paul’s day.  Without being deeply involved in your life they are never going to see the benefits of a life that is free from the bondage of sin. Everybody knows that everybody puts forth their best image online and we have all seen enough stuff online to be skeptical of most of it. The best way to spread the gospel is to be right there day to day with people and praising God even in the worst of times.  This is how they will know that you are truly different.

-Chris Mattison