Everyone’s Got A Perspective
Rev. 9:20 ¶ The rest of humankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands or give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk.
Rev. 9:21 And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their fornication or their thefts.
When we come to this point in the book of Revelation we have already experienced all kinds of plagues. Humanity has not been responding to the call of God to return to him. Although many have died as a result of their unfaithfulness, still they will not repent and they continue to worship at idols made by human hands.
I was reading through a number of commentaries to get a perspective on what the Scripture is trying to tell us in this place. So often we try to interpret the signs about which we read and determine a timing for the events that are listed and most of the time that has to do with predicting the future. We seem more concerned about reading the “signs of the times” than about the real message that we find in this Scripture.
Nearly every commentary writer has a different perspective on this Scripture and place it at a different time in history. You can tell that every era has had their own perspective, depending on what they were dealing with at the time. Some consider this to be the time of the iconoclastic movement, the issue of which is “resolved” at the last Council of Constantinople in 787. It was at this time that Byzantium was experience on-going threats from the advance of Islam in the East and therefore this was interpreted in light of the advance of Islam on Christianity and Christianity’s continued devotion to icons. The only ones who would survive the onslaught were those in the Roman West, and hence it was the Roman Catholic Church which would be saved.
Move forward toward the Reformation and you see this in another light. Now the bad guys are the Roman Catholic Church who refuse to give up their formality in worship. Christians are suffering at the hands of others who call themselves “Christian” in the Inquisitions and in the midst of it all God is calling out to all people.
Contemporary society has been more concerned about reading these Scriptures into the future, rather than into the past. This is another perspective. However, could it be that we have been too concerned with finding a particular perspective and have not considered that in trying to place this within a particular timeframe we are missing out on the message? The message for all of us throughout time is that God is continually trying to call his people back into a faithful relationship. God has and will use all the resources found on this earth, including enemy combatants, to try and wake up his people! No matter what century humanity has been continually attracted to, and distracted by, the things of this world. We are still worshipping idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood. They may not be imagery in a Church, but they may be imagery in our driveway, homes and basements. The idols may be made of steel, leather, flat screens, plastic remote controls, etc.
Maybe we shouldn’t be so concerned about a timeline as we should about a timeless message. God’s people should be aware that God is continually calling us back to a faithful relationship with him. This is the ageless perspective. The question for us is whether we will listen and respond.
Lord, may we keep our eyes off of the idols of the world and only on you. Amen.