by Rev Jason Phua
Bible Reading: Revelation 9:1-21; Proverbs 24:15-16
READ (verses chosen for meditation)
Revelation 9:4-5 “They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone.”
Reading the book of Revelation can be very encouraging. It can also be quite alarming. We could be wondering for example, what Revelation 9:4-5 means. How could it be that God is going to send monster-like creatures to torment unbelievers for five months? This seems to be the act of Satan and not our loving God. I once read Dr. Beale Campbell’s commentary and he mentioned that these verses suggested that unbelievers will be spiritually and emotionally tormented. So it isn’t so much about physical torment. Such an idea is in line with other verses in Revelation which talks about “weeping and mourning”. Yet, even if this is the right interpretation of the verses; I still wonder why. Why will God send creatures to torment unbelievers; whether spiritually or physically?
As I reflected on these verses, a phrase I once told my children came to mind. I told them that in my Christian journey, I am thankful for the great grace that God has been showing and is still showing to me. Yet, in the midst of grace, I am also reminded of the great judgement to come. There can be no grace without also judgement.
Indeed, how can the grace of God be great if His judgement is not great as well on Calvary? How can grace be genuine if God is not just towards sin during the Second Coming? Indeed, the prophecy that unbelievers, among other forms of judgement will be tormented for five months is difficult to hear. Yet, who am I to judge of the One who first came to bear my shame and then will be coming to judge all men? I know not why the torment must be done but I am confident that the Good Shepherd knows what He is doing and is going to do. Perhaps only those who truly believe are exempted from such a spiritual torment because of the assurance that God will come to get us to be with Him forever. Perhaps such a torment is an opportunity given for repentance before it is too late.
Great Judgement from the only worthy Judge only bears witness to the great grace that God has shown and is showing to those who choose to believe. After all, the blood stained grace of God has been given in atonement. It is up to all who have heard to receive or face the judgement to come. Great grace has been given. Those who are hard-hearted and unrepentant shall then face the great judgement.
Lord my God. Even as I am thankful to the grace you have given to me in Jesus Christ; help me to be mindful of the warnings and truth given by the book of Revelation. You are God. Help me to submit therefore to Your will and ways. Amen.