Friday, 22 January 2021
But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. Revelation 9:20
As noted in the 9:18 commentary, the extent of the word “mankind” here is actually uncertain. It is probably referring to those in the army of Israel, or even the population who are targeted along with the army. In other words, it says that “a third of mankind was killed.” That would, at this time, leave two-thirds. As John says, “But the rest of mankind.”
If this is referring to the same battle that Ezekiel prophesied about, despite losing one-third of the population, the victory over the enemy is so great that it would still be considered a massive accomplishment. In such a state, John says of those “who were not killed by these plagues,” that there will be no change in their attitude.
Sometimes calamity will bring people closer to God. However, when there is a great victory at the same time, the opposite can be true. The dead are mourned, but the people as a whole feel proud, self-righteous, and seemingly invincible. This appears to be the case here because John says that they “did not repent of the work of their hands.”
If speaking of Israel, as it appears to be the case, they are stuck in idolatry to this day. They have idolatry of self, idolatry of culture, idolatry of nationalism, idolatry of wealth, power, and status. They also have idols throughout the land. It is not uncommon to see buddhas in houses, eastern spiritualism permeates many in the society, and so on. For the most part, they are a secular society that lives very similarly to those in the US and elsewhere. The religious Jews are not religious for the word of God, but for the teachings and traditions of their sages as found in the Talmud.
This is not to beat up on the people. Rather, it is a simple fact. In following any such idol mentioned above, or any other that they follow (and the list is as long as with any other nation), they are not following the Lord. He presented Himself to them and confirmed that He was the fulfillment of their own Scriptures –
“Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” John 5:45, 46
If one is not following the Lord (Yehovah of the Old Testament who has come as Christ Jesus in the flesh in the New), they are – by default – following the devil –
“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.” John 8:44-47
The thing about Israel (and the world at large today that now has Scripture) is that not only have they followed after countless other gods, but they have rejected the Scriptures. It is these that tell of Jesus (as noted above) as well as the battles that will come. The truth is clearly laid out in them, in minute detail. If they simply made themselves aware of the contents of the word, they would be able to see that the battle now being described was prophesied in advance.
However, as John says, they have failed to come to the Lord so “that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.”
The constant failing of Israel (and indeed the whole world, but the focus is on Israel here) is that they have, even since their inception, followed every “god” they could conjure up. They have followed demons (e.g., 2 Chronicles 11:15), and they have followed idols of gold, silver, brass, and wood (e.g., Hosea 8:4). In this, they have traded the living God for those things.
And not only will they not give up such things after this terrifying battle is complete, but they will continue with their abominations as is noted in the verse to come.
Life application: Judgment has been brought about in the fifth and sixth trumpets, which are the first and second woes. These battles comprise the aerial assault and then a ground invasion. However, there has been no change in heart – no repentance and turning to God.
Instead, they have continued in the worship of things made by their hands. Anything that we can form is formed out of something that God has made. Therefore, it is not God. The bizarre thought process of worshipping an idol of this sort, along with the irony involved, is laid out clearly in Isaiah 44:6-20. Take time to read that passage, but here is a portion of it –
“He burns half of it in the fire;
With this half he eats meat;
He roasts a roast, and is satisfied.
He even warms himself and says,
‘Ah! I am warm,
I have seen the fire.’
17 And the rest of it he makes into a god,
His carved image.
He falls down before it and worships it,
Prays to it and says,
“Deliver me, for you are my god!” Isaiah 44:16, 17
In the list provided by John in this verse are a host of materials used in idolatry – gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood. But the list is started with the thought that they are really worshipping demons. Paul explains this in 1 Corinthians 10:20. Demonic activity is behind all idolatry. Any worship of a physical, tangible, created substance is error.
For proper worship, we are only to look to God, the Maker of all things, and not to the things He has made. The Bible says for us to fix our eyes on Jesus. The word reveals Jesus to us, and Jesus reveals the Father. Why should we look anywhere else for our heart’s desire when He is the Source of all things?
Lord God, how far we have fallen! We direct our eyes away from You and instead lavish our attention and devotion on mere things? Forgive our wicked hearts. May we always remember that You are the Creator and that all things have come from You. May we never set up an idol in our home or in our heart, but instead may we worship You alone. Amen.