8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was allowed to scorch people with fire. 9 They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in agony 11 and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had
The seven bowls of judgment complete God's judgment on all mankind. Each judgment is worse than the previous and brought pain, sores and boils on the people. One of the judgments is cited to be judgment for all those who had shed the blood of the holy ones and the prophets. It reminds us that when the end comes God will right all wrongs and bring justice to those who were wronged or killed for His name.
But the big theme is that when those who have the mark of the beast see the judgments are from God, they curse him. And more significantly they refuse to repent. Despite their pain and realizing the judgment is from God, their hearts are seared. They worship the image of the beast, and therefore refuse to believe in God. Notice the purpose is to give these people another chance to come to the truth.
A lot of people focus on the horror of the judgments, but don't see the purpose of them. They don't see the justice or mercy of God in these judgments. They don't see that when someone worships something or someone, they will eventually see what that thing is worth. In this case those who worship the beast will have the same fate as him.
What can we learn from this passage? Although God desires all people to be saved, if people refuse to be saved they will what eventually get what they deserve. In fact, we would all get what we deserve if we weren't covered by God's grace in Jesus. So how do we reach out to those who seem hell bent on destruction? While only God can change a human heart, we can pray for people. Since it is a spiritual battle. we need to wage the battle with the weapons we have been equipped with, prayer and the word of God. Also we can love those who persecute us and curse God.
Who in your life seems so far from God they seem hopeless? Whose heart seems seared to the words of God and curse his name? Remember God will have mercy on them if they repent. If God is willing to be so merciful so should we!