Once again we see in our passage numerous references to Old Testament Scriptures. Things like the drying up of water, the plague of frogs, peals of lightning and thunder coupled with the shaking of the very foundations of the earth, and the coming of massive hail, all would call up numerous stories from the Old Testaments with which John’s readers would have been familiar.
These stories would have recalled God’s decisive action on behalf of His people. God would have His people be free, and in particular be free to express their love for Him in worship. All that stands against such freedom, and all that stands against right worship, will be subject to the strongest judgments of God as a clear expression of the wrath of God.
So, while this section does indeed speak of judgment, it also revisits the theme that Greg wrote about earlier in the week—the theme of worship.
It’s probably worth thinking about what stands in the way of right worship. Some of the obstacles to worship are external, though we don’t face many of these in contemporary America. When John was writing, however, and still in much of the world today, the worship of God in Jesus was forbidden by the government. And this condemnation of Christian worship was (and is) enforced by penalties of punishment, cruel torture, and death.
But other obstacles to worship are internal. They are of our own making. No one forces them upon us; we freely choose them ourselves. I am not suggesting that we intentionally choose to ignore God or brazenly assign Him a place minor importance in our lives. But I am suggesting that through such things as distraction, greed, self centeredness, hurry, worry, getting caught up in the trivial, and more, we subvert what worship could and should be.
So at the risk of being redundant, I am going to ask the same question as Greg—how is our worship? This passage makes it frighteningly clear that there is far more riding on our answer than we first might think.