And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:  Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. (Revelation 9:20-21)
Once again our congregational reading in Revelation takes us to the awful time of Tribulation that occurs after the rapture of God’s children from the earth. The scenes of physical destruction are frightening, but in my opinion the spiritual problem we see in Revelation 9:20-21 may very well be the scariest of all. These verses are not frightening to me as a believer in Christ, but they should be a huge wakeup call to those that ignore salvation thinking when they are full of sin they will turn from their wickedness and receive the Saviour.
In the previous verses, we have seen hordes of demons unleashed from the abyss. Evil spirits like scorpions inflict torment on people so vicious they wish they could die. They will seek death but not find it (9:5-6). Later another demonic army two hundred million strong will kill one-third of the world’s population (9:16-18). We would think the entire world would be convinced they must turn to Christ for salvation. Surely the mass destruction and utter devastation would cause them to seek God for deliverance. And yet we read in verse 21 “Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.”
We wonder, “Why would they not repent?” It should not seem mysteriously strange as something never seen before when people today so callously turn their backs on Christ. This morning there are good preachers in pulpits all across America that lay the word of God before people and ask them to choose between life in heaven with Jesus Christ or eternal destruction in hell with Satan and his demons. Many recognize there is a problem, but rather than believe in Christ they say, “We will wait awhile. When we are finished with our fun and have tired of our vices, we will accept your Christ in time before we die.” This is a foolish thought because it is not in anyone’s power to receive Christ at any time he chooses. The human heart is depraved and incapable of turning to Christ unless the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit regenerates and brings the person to repentance and faith. Neither the worst of times nor the best of times are enough incentive to move a person to turn from his sins, give up self, and surrender all to the Saviour.
There are many that believe a preacher’s pleadings will save people. Some think salvation is an intellectual choice made by good sense and by the free will of man. They do not understand every faculty of man is depraved even, and perhaps most of all, his will. The will is enslaved to sin and cannot break free. We would as soon expect that pigs can fly as to believe a person is capable of turning his own heart to God. Revelation 9:20-21 shows that people with the strongest incentive to believe will never do so unless God speaks to their hearts and removes the natural hardness that keeps them from the truth of the gospel.
The most important lesson that you can learn from the end of this chapter is that to be saved you must humble yourself and plead for God’s mercy. God is in charge of your salvation not you! An arrogant attitude that says, “I will come when I am good and ready,” will never be acceptable to God. Trust Him today while the door of salvation is open. Tomorrow, He may choose close it.
Pastor V. Mark Smith