They Refused to Repent
“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.“ – Revelation 16:9 NIV
If you’ve ever struggled with the concept that in order for a man to repent and turn to God he must first be called by God, chapter 16 of Revelation ought to change your mind. Here we have a picture of the final days before the final battle between God and the forces of evil on the earth. God is bringing consecutive judgments on the earth and its inhabitants – seven of them to be exact. And they are anything but light. They include horrible sores on men and the waters of the earth turning to blood. The sun will give off excessive, scorching heat. There will also be a period of supernatural darkness on the earth. The River Euphrates will completely dry up and then there will be a massive lightning storm accompanied by earthquakes that change the topography of the earth, accompanied by massive hail stones as large as 100 pounds each! Yet in the midst of this unbelievable time of terror and destruction, we are told that men will refuse to repent and glorify God. That is amazing to me!
With all those things taking place around them and to them, these people will blaspheme God rather than turn to Him. They will refuse to turn from their sin and rebellion and worship the very one who is causing all this to happen. But “affliction if it does not melt, hardens the sinner” (Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown). Back in Revelation 11:13, there were those who appeared to give glory to God, but it would be short-lived. Like Pharaoh, who would give in to the demands of Moses, then later harden his heart, these same people would go from glorifying God to blaspheming Him. Even in the midst of all the chaos and confusion, men will refuse to worship God. And they will die in their sin. But unless the Spirit of God turns a man’s heart to God, it is impossible for Him to repent. Jesus said, “that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father” (John 6:65 NASB). The hearts of these people will be so dark and sin-riddled, they will unable to see the futility of their sin and the seriousness of their condition, even in the face of pending doom and destruction.
But if you think this all seems unfair, make sure you read verses 5-7. “And I heard the angel who had authority over all water saying, “You are just in sending this judgment, O Holy One, who is and who always was. For your holy people and your prophets have been killed, and their blood was poured out on the earth. So you have given their murderers blood to drink. It is their just reward.” And I heard a voice from the altar saying, “Yes, Lord God Almighty, your punishments are true and just” (Revelation 16:5-7 NLT). We are reminded that, in spite of what we might think, God is just, righteous, and true – even in bringing His wrath and judgment to bear on the earth. He remains holy and completely right in all His actions. He has given the world ample opportunity to turn to Him. He sent His own Son to die for them. Yet they refused to believe and repent. So now He is finishing what He began. He is fixing what sin destroyed. And He is completely just in doing so.
Father, I don’t always understand Your ways, but I try to trust them, because I know You are holy, just, and right in all Your ways. Affliction isn’t always easy for me to handle. Sometimes I just want it to go away. Yet I know You have a purpose for it, just like You will in the last days. And while the days we are going through right now are nothing compared to what is to come, I pray that we would be willing to share the gospel with all those around us and that You would be preparing the hearts of many to hear. I know you use times of affliction to call men to Yourself, and we want to see that happen this coming new year. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men