Revelation 9:20 -21
[Rev. 9:20] The rest of humanity, who had not been killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so that they did not stop worshiping demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk about. [Rev. 9:21] Furthermore, they did not repent of their murders, of their magic spells, of their sexual immorality, or of their stealing.
What does it take for some people to see their need to repent? Repentance from sinful activities does us good. While sin may garb itself in pleasantness and pleasure, it’s sweet taste eventually becomes poisoned gravel in our stomachs. Repentance is not to be reduced to a one-off moment coinciding with our conversion to Christ. Rather it should be seen as the constant steering wheel adjustment that the soul makes to counter the drift of sin’s damage to our spiritual wheel alignment.
John is describing events that were designed to lead people to repent from sin. The image of plagues reminds us of what God did in Egypt to deliver Israel. These plagues were a demonstration of God’s supremacy over each of Egypt’s false gods. Some Egyptians did repent and joined the wandering nation of Hebrews that Passover night on their journey to the Promised Land (Exodus 12:38). But most Egyptians did not.
It seems incomprehensible to some that God would not give in to the demands of the majority when it comes to determining what are acceptable laws for mankind. I spoke with a man recently about his sin. His response was “It can’t be wrong what I’m doing because ninety plus percent of the population are doing it as well!” The people in sin that would not repent are here identified by John as worshiping demons. Their idolatry had led them to commit murders, sorceries, sexual immorality, and theft. The response from God was dramatic.
When Paul wrote to the Romans he described God using yet another strategy for bringing some people to repentance: His kindness (Romans 2:4).
How would you prefer for God to facilitate for your repentance? I think I would prefer His kindness. I also think that these people described by John probably had experienced God’s kindness designed to lead them to repentance, but because they had refused to repent God used this other means. My prayer is that my heart will always respond to the kindness of God when He gently summons me to repent, without the need for God to orchestrate anything more drastic.