We are pulled in two directions. Heaven or hell. Two realms vie for our affections. There's the desire in each one of us to contribute positively to our families…our relationships…our communities. Most of us, most of the time, want to do the right thing. We want to leave our little corner of God's world better than we found it. We are being called to a lofty expression of our better selves. As someone once said:
It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still BE CALM IN YOUR Heart.
We like that. We resonate with thoughts like that. We want more of that in our lives. They are not bad things. We want to envision ourselves as occupying a place of positive influence where we're at. Many of us have committed Paul's list of the Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5 to heart - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
That's the spiritual sphere to which Jesus Christ calls us. As we yield our lives to Christ, God works His sovereign purpose through us to bless the world. Being saved in Christ keeps our eyes on heaven while we work so that God's will is done on earth as it is in heaven.
The second sphere, hell, tries to conform us mightily to its corrupting nature. Hell hounds us to move us away from God. And the voices of hell are alluring. In a famous approach, hell asks, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?'" Hell challenges us to assert our own will. Shouldn't we be in charge of our own destiny? Hell can be loud and alluring enough to seduce the world away from God's grace and mercy.
Wherever we are between these two poles - and, when we're honest with
ourselves, some days we're closer to hell than others - the negative pull is palpable. And the reason why is because we are all sinners in need of salvation. We are not good in and of ourselves. Here's something you might want to remember:
It's not our sins that make us sinners. Our sins are symptoms of our sinful nature.
In other words, sin is the disease. The sinful things we do are the symptoms.
Listen to 1 John 2:16:
For all that is in the world - the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life - is not from the Father but is from the world.
Life is lived between two mightily opposed spheres. They both directly touch our lives. We will either be a companion of God or a friend of the devil. One or the other. That's the way our lives go.
Thus we arrive at these brutal verses of Revelation 9. People have ignored the powerful warnings from previous chapters. They have not repented. They have willingly chosen to remain in the sphere of evil. They have rejected the offers of mercy and grace. Remember…mercy is not getting what we deserve and grace is getting what we don't deserve. Fierce judgment is coming their way. Yet they will continue to curse the God of heaven. They are about to reap the whirlwind.
Here, now, Revelation 9:13-21:
Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great ri