Just as in Micah’s day, one of the devil’s oldest tricks is to get men and women to put their hope in a lie. Even though it is often what they want to hear, it leads to despair when they realize their hope was fixed on a lie. How could you be misplacing your hope?
And in our New Testament reading …
In Revelation 9 the fifth and sixth trumpets sound! The fifth releases swarming locust-like demons with tails like scorpions. Their stings will leave people begging to die, but not even able to commit suicide. And the sixth is even worse.
When You Hope in a Lie
Like many in our culture today, the people in Micah’s time rejected God’s truth (Micah 2.6). They dismissed the prophets as “prattlers” or babblers. But God said the real “babblers” were false prophets who told people what they wanted to hear (Micah 2.11). Furthermore, God warned them of a time when their false prophets would be exposed for the fakes they were and discredited, leaving the people with no hope, because they had put their hope in a lie (verses 6-7):
6 “Therefore you shall have night without vision,
And you shall have darkness without divination;
The sun shall go down on the prophets,
And the day shall be dark for them.
7 So the seers shall be ashamed,
And the diviners abashed;
Indeed they shall all cover their lips;
For there is no answer from God.”
Deception is one of Satan’s oldest tricks. Jesus said he is the “father of lies” (Jn. 8.44). Just as he did in the garden where Eve put her hope in his lies, he first plants seeds of doubt by implying, “Did God really say …?”
“Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Gen. 3.1).
But sooner or later he simply calls God a liar:
4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3.4-5)
There is no end to the lies people place their hope in today. Lies such as:
“The Bible was written for people in another day and time. This is a different world so it has no application for our lives today.”
“The Bible was written by men who wanted to keep women in their place or control the behavior of others.”
“The Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality. It’s fine within a loving, committed relationship.”
“The Bible is just a book of nice stories.”
“There is no God. You can live any way you choose and not answer for it.”
Where is your hope? Is it firmly fixed on truth? When we hope in God, it’s a hope that does not disappoint:
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Rom. 5.1-5)
Today’s Other Readings:
Verse 15, “… Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!”
… no matter what their circumstances.
God’s Care for the Afflicted
“Do not malign a servant to his master, lest he curse you, and you be found guilty.”
God looks out for His servants, especially the downtrodden and the afflicted, those who do not have the ability to defend themselves.
Wanting to Die
Yesterday we covered the first four trumpets of God’s judgment. Chapter 8 ended with this:
¹³ And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!”
Then chapter 9 opens:
1 Then the fifth angel sounded. And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. 2 And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. 3 Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 4 They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. 6 In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.
This star is not a celestial body, but an angelic being, possibly Satan himself. He opens the bottomless pit, the place where some of the angels have been kept locked up since before Noah’s time. Out of the pit come these locust-like creatures with tails like scorpions. These are not actually locusts, but demons. Instead of attacking vegetation, they will attack those who do not have the seal of God. The sting will be so painful that people will try to commit suicide, but will be unable to do so.
9 And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle. 10 They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months. 11 And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.
“Breastplates of iron” indicate that they will be indestructible or at least very difficult to kill. They will be allowed to create havoc and destruction for five months.
12 One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things.
The sixth trumpet:
13 Then the sixth angel sounded. And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, 14 saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” 15 So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. 16 Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. 17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. 18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed—by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths. 19 For their power is in their mouth and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they do harm.
These four are also demonic angels. They are released along with their whole army of demonic beings. This army of demonic creatures will kill a third of the world’s population. The horses breathe out fire, smoke, and brimstone—a sulfurous rock which melts and produces a suffocating gas. Even their tails contain deadly weapons.
20 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.
But even after the second woe, unbelievers who survive will refuse to repent and turn to God!
Tomorrow chapter 10 …
This year is fast drawing to a close and many of us are thinking about 2018. We’ll set goals for eating better and using that gym membership. We may set financial or career goals. Some may choose a word or character trait to focus on this year. But let’s not neglect the most important area of life …
In the next few days, we’ll talk about grace, the responsibility involved in being a true friend, contentment, the goal of life for every believer, the second death, and about God as the Righteous Judge.
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