There are many passages in the Bible that are precious and comforting. They are designed to bring hope and encouragement to God’s people, and to help those who need to be lifted up. Psalm 23 comes to mind.
There are other passages in the Bible which are disturbing. Dr. R. C. Sproul said that the most terrifying verse in all the Bible, for him, was Matthew 5:20: “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
As there are passages that are precious and comforting, there are passages in the Bible that are alarming, and there are passages that are designed to state an awful truth. One such passage is Revelation 9:21.
The text teaches that sin is so exceedingly sinful, no matter what God does, for good or bad, there are individuals who will not repent.
Some who murder others, physically, or in their heart with hatred, will not repent.
Some who practice magic, or are addicted to drugs (Gk. pharmakeia), will not repent of their addiction. They will not turn and forsake their idol and commitment to a self-destructive, and other destructive substance.
Some will not repent of their fornication (Gk. porneia), or sexual lusts, including pornography, adultery, and incest. They will smile and speak of having a friendship “with benefits.”
Some will not repent of their thefts. What is stolen, the love, peace, joy, hope and happiness of a spouse, or family member, brings too much pleasure.
The narrative that sets the basis for this Divine observation is a series of plagues the apostle John witnessed in a vision while he was on the isle of Patmos in the first century AD. In the Revelation the apostle was given, he saw Seven Trumpet Angels.
When the Fifth Trumpet Angel blew his instrument, in chapter 9, John saw a Star fall from heaven to earth. The Star was an angel to whom was given the Key of the Bottomless Pit. The Bottomless Pit was opened releasing so much smoke, the air was polluted, and the sun was darkened.
Out of the Bottomless Pit came terrifying locusts to whom was given power to wound, like the sting of a scorpion. Limitation was placed on the locust. They were not allowed to hurt the grass. They could not touch anything green, or a tree. But they could torment those who did not have the Seal of God in their forehead. However, the locust could not kill anyone.
Great authority was given to the Locust from the Bottomless Pit to torment individuals for five months. During this prolonged period of suffering, individuals would seek death, and not find it. People would desire to die, but death fled from them.
John was able to describe the terrible appearance of the Locusts from the Bottomless Pit.
Each locust was shaped like a horse arrayed for battle, for each locust wore a breastplate of iron.
Each Horse Locust wore a golden crown.
Each Horse Locust creature had the face of a man.
Each Horse Locust had long hair, like the beautiful hair on a woman.
When the Horse Locust smiled, their teeth were seen to be like the teeth of lions.
Each Horse Locust had wings.
Each Horse Locust had a tail that was similar to the tail of a scorpion.
When the Horse Locusts moved, their wings produced the sound of chariots drawn by many
horses, racing into battle.
The number of the Horse Locust from the Bottomless Pit numbered 200 million.
The Locust from the Bottomless Pit were led by a King, which is the Angel of the Bottomless Pit. The King has a name in Hebrew: Abaddon [destroyer]. In Greek, his name is Apollyon [destroyer (i.e. Satan)].
The Locust from the Bottomless Pit constituted the First Woe in a series of three.
John watched as the Sixth Trumpet Angel blew his instrument. John heard a voice from the four horns of the Golden Altar of Incense which is before God. The message of the voice had instruction for the Sixth Trumpet Angel: “Loose the four angels which are bound in the great River Euphrates.”
The Four Angels that had been bound in the great River Euphrates were loosened. For one year, one month, one day, and one hour, they were to go forth and slaughter one third of humanity.
The scene shifted from the Four Angels of the great River Euphrates back to the Horse Locusts from the Bottomless Pit. John saw on the back of each Horse Locust a Rider. Each rider had a breastplate of fire, jacinth, and brimstone.
John looked more closely at the heads of the Horse Locust and noticed that while each had the face of a man, the head looked like a lion.
When a Horse Locust opened its mouth, the teeth appeared to look like the teeth of a lion, as fire, smoke, and brimstone spewed forth.
By these three, the Horse Locusts from the Bottomless Pit, the Four Angels of the Great River Euphrates, and the Riders on the Horse Locusts, a third part of the inhabitants of the earth were killed by the fire, smoke, and brimstone which spewed out of their mouths.
The First Result. Despite the severity of suffering produced from the plagues, individuals did not repent, and continued to worship devils, and idols made of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood. These idols could not see, hear, or walk, and yet they were worshipped.
The Second Result. Despite the severity of suffering produced from the plagues, individuals did not repent of their murders, sorceries, fornication, or thefts.
When a passage like this is read in the Bible, when the plagues of God are foretold, and then, when the judgments of God are manifested in real time, reflected in the Bubonic Plague of the Middle Ages, or the Pandemic Corona Virus of the 21st century, there are two possible reactions. One is cynical. The other is spiritual.
A cynical response to Scripture, and the Divine conclusion is to agree. The non-repentant person says in essence, “Yes. That is me. I will not change. I will not repent. I will not confess the evil I do. I will not stop hurting myself, or others. I know how to make others suffer, and I will make them pay an emotional and financial price. I am committed to my non-repentant ways. That is just who I am. God loves me as I am. I do not need to change in order to be a better person. I do not need to change in order to go to heaven. I have nothing I want to repent of.”
A spiritual response would be to recognize the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the hardness of the human heart. A spiritual response would be to come to God and reason with Him, since it is impossible to come to God and be emotional. Sin destroys godly emotions, which is why the Bible speaks about having a heart of stone. Only a heart of flesh can quiver when touched by the Holy Spirit. The non-repentant cannot quiver before God. They will vibrate with rage and self-justification. They will shake in anger. They might experience depression and self-pity, but no repentance.
With that being the way it is, the non-repentant can come to God and confess that he, or she, is wedded to hatred, lust, or stealing the hope and happiness of someone that should be loved and shown tenderness. The non-repentant can ask God to do what is impossible for self to do, make a new heart within them.
Since repentance is a gift of God, the non-repentant can rationally ask for this gift of Divine grace.
It is possible that God might have mercy, and grant repentance to the person who, though in a state of non-repentance, and unable to change themselves, is honest.
If this gospel truth has found its way to your heart, if you can say, “Scripture is true. No matter what God brings into my life to humble me, break me, and convict me, I will not repent of my bad behavior, I will not change, but I will ask God to change me,” there is hope. Eternal life awaits all who repent. If Christ has not changed your heart, and given you agape love, then be forewarned.
Seek God’s grace, seek to repent now, for sin is exceedingly sinful, and no unrepentant person will be allowed in heaven.
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?”