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Refusing Repentance

Repentance is a gift from God but refusing repentance is what the devil wants. Sin is not the issue; the issue is repentance.

 

Revelation 8:6-9:21 8:6 Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.

7 The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.


8 The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. 9 A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.


10 The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. 11 The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter.

12 The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of their light might be darkened, and a third of the day might be kept from shining, and likewise a third of the night.


13 Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!”


9:1 And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. 2 He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. 3 Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. 4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone. 6 And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them.


7 In appearance the locusts were like horses prepared for battle: on their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, 8 their hair like women's hair, and their teeth like lions' teeth; 9 they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle. 10 They have tails and stings like scorpions, and their power to hurt people for five months is in their tails. 11 They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon.

12 The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come.


13 Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, 14 saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” 15 So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind. 16 The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number. 17 And this is how I saw the horses in my vision and those who rode them: they wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur, and the heads of the horses were like lions' heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. 18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. 19 For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are like serpents with heads, and by means of them they wound.


20 The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, 21 nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

 

Have you ever shared the gospel with somebody and when you asked if they understood everything, they said yes, but when you asked if they want to accept Jesus, they said no?

 

An evangelist met with a Somalian man for months. He answered every question that the Somalian man had about Jesus. Finally, a day came when the evangelist asked, “Do you understand everything?” The answer was yes. He asked again, “Have I answered all your questions?” Again, the answer was yes. Then he asked, “Are you willing to give your life to Jesus?” The man flat-out said no.

 

The evangelist was so frustrated that he flipped the table that they were sitting around and said, “Man, you are going to hell, and I cannot do anything to save you.”

 

The evangelist was me twenty-some years ago. I could have handled the situation better, but I was in pain because by refusing repentance he didn’t just reject Jesus; he forfeited his soul.

 

The problem is that people do not know that by refusing repentance and rejecting Jesus, they forfeit their souls. They need to know that the door for repentance will not remain open forever.

 

From Revelation 8:1-5, we learned that no plea or prayer ever offered in the name of Jesus is wasted. As a result of prayers for the lost, Revelation 8:6 to 9:21, God offered repentance even in the end times, but people refused repentance, rejecting Jesus.

 

The big idea for us here is, if we don't want to forfeit our souls, then don’t reject Jesus by refusing repentance because the door for repentance will not remain open forever.

 

As we continue “Uncovering Revelation” verse by verse, our text today reveals that in the end times, God will cause tremendous torment to draw people to repentance through disastrous devastation, demonic destruction, and divine discretion.

 

Disastrous Devastation

 

Revelation 8:6 says, “Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.” We do not know what this preparation was like. However, we can guess that preparation involves a strategy. What is God’s strategy of war against people in the end times? God’s strategy is to strike from the land, sea, and air through natural and supernatural means.

 

Verse 7 reads, The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.” Some expect this to be the result of a global nuclear war. I think it is more like the plagues in Egypt, to show God’s power to cause repentance. First, God will strike the earth to kill vegetation. No farming means no food for humans but also no vegetation means no food for livestock either. Imagine utter starvation.

 

Revelation 8:8-11 continues, “The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. Again, similar to the plagues in Egypt when the Nile was turned into blood, killing fish and destroying trade routes. God will strike the sea to take away trade and economic prosperity but also another food source. The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter.

 

First no food, and now no fresh water to drink. Wormwood is mentioned in the Bible eight times and each time it is associated with bitterness, poison, and death. The life-giving water will give life no more, but bring death.

 

And Revelation 8:12, The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of their light might be darkened, and a third of the day might be kept from shining, and likewise a third of the night.

 

After striking the land, the sea now God turns to the air. The terror comes from above along with more terrifying news.

 

Revelation 8 finishes with verse 13, “Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!”

 

It ends with these three woes at the end of the natural disastrous devastation of the first four trumpets because what comes in the fifth, sixth, and seventh trumpet blasts is worse than anything before.

 

Last Wednesday during the Midweek service, I was teaching on Genesis 1:27-31. I shared that after creation, God gave us dominion over the land, sea, and air but we lost it to sin. In the end times, God strikes from the land, the sea, and the air to show His dominion over all creation.

 

The application is: draw near to Jesus and do not cling to a world that will not last but work for the world that is yet to come. God will cause tremendous torment to draw people to repentance through natural disastrous devastation but also supernatural demonic destruction.

 

Demonic Destruction

 

 Revelation 9:1 says, “And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit.”

 

In the Bible, Satan is referred to as the fallen star. God is not sending evil— He is letting it loose. Second Thessalonians 2:6 tells us that it is God who, through the power of the Holy Spirit in the church, is restraining him, holding him back.

 

The church, in every age, presents a challenge to the forces of darkness with the rapture of the church and the ascension of the Holy Spirit from the earth. The forces of darkness will advance faster than ever before. In the midst of that, Satan, the fallen star will be permitted to do what he always desired to do ever since man was created.

 

So God is not the enemy. He is not the source of suffering or evil, but when we refuse to repent, we cast our vote for Satan, the enemy of our souls. Revelation 9:2 read, “He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft.” In Greek, the bottomless pit is abyssos which is the abyss.

 

The Romans understood the abyss as the home of demons, the fallen angels. The Greeks called it Tartarus which was lower than even Hades where the unsaved dead live. It was understood as the lowest hell.

 

Second Peter 2:4 says “… God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into Tartarus, [here in the ESV translated as Hell] and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment.”

 

Jude 1:6 reads, And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—

 

No wonder demons were so afraid of the abyss. Luke 8:31 says, “And they begged him [Jesus] not to command them to depart into the abyss.”

 

It shows God the Son has power over demons, and that all demons are not the same. Some of them function in this world but others are locked away in the lower part of the abyss.

 

Why? Because they are more ferocious. They were cast out of heaven with Satan after the rebellion and were chained until the great day. At the beginning of the literal one-thousand-year reign of Jesus on earth, Satan will be bound there, too.

 

But before that day comes in the second half of the seven-year tribulation, at the fifth trumpet blast, the fallen star, Satan, will be given the key to unlock and unleash demonic devastation on Earth.

 

Even then, Revelation 9:3-4 shows God’s sovereignty, “Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.”

 

Many are convinced that these locusts are Cobra or Apache helicopters with nerve gas in the tail but the problem is that technology changes with time. I believe that they are demonic locusts.

 

Remember in the natural disaster, one-third of the vegetation was killed. Here, God gives an explicit command not to harm the rest of the vegetation. Why? Because God is merciful, as seen next in verses 5-6, “They were allowed to torment them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings someone. And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them.”

 

In His mercy, God limited the time of torment. Yet, it was so unbearable that they wanted to kill themselves. However, God took away the option of death which often gives unbelievers the false hope of escape from life and pain because they think there is nothing after this and God also brought out what waits for them after death— eternal torment.

 

Why? To cause repentance. Those who refuse repentance and die in their sin will be tormented forever and ever but, here, to save them from that eternal torment and show them what waits for unrepentant souls, God, in His mercy, gives them a taste of it for only five months.

 

In Revelation 9:7-10, they look demonic because they are demons. The hair of women in verse 8 is thought to be the seductive and alluring quality of the demons but faces like men and teeth like lions speak of their deceptive and devouring nature.

 

Verse 11 tells us that they also have a master. It reads, “They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, he is called Apollyon.” Abaddon means destruction and Apollyon means destroyer. He is what He does. Clearly, like angels, there are ranks among demons too and the king of them is this destroyer.

 

The application for us is, repent and turn away from your sinful life and toward life in Christ.  For some, that might mean accepting Jesus for the first time and following Him, and for others, that means stop making excuses for sinning and living your life like the world. If you are a believer, demons cannot possess you for Jesus dwells in you.

 

In Revelation 9:12 is the transitional verse, “The first woe has passed; behold, two woes are still to come. However, in the middle of natural and supernatural disastrous destruction, we see divine discretion in the rest of Revelation 9.

 

Divine Discretion

 

Revelation 9:13-14 reads, Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”

 

The language, “release” and “bound,” indicates that they were the imprisoned angels which means they were also fallen angels or demons. Verse 15 continues,So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind.” This was the precise moment for which they were imprisoned and prepared to kill one-third of mankind. Throughout our text today, we read about the destruction of one-third of the resources. Here we read about the destruction of one-third of mankind.

 

Next, we read about a huge army that is either demonic or demon-possessed in verse 16 which says, “The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand.” Doing the math, that’s an army of 200 million. Then John said, “I heard their number.” 

 

This means that this number is important and later in Revelation we will see why. However, in Revelation 9:17-19, John describes the horses in his vision and how they killed a third of mankind.

 

All of this reminds me of imagery from “The Lord of the Rings.” Remember the army of ugly demonic creatures serving the dark lord? However in this case, though they will serve their dark lord, ultimately, they will accomplish the purpose of the Lord Himself.

 

What is the purpose? To draw people to repentance. Will they repent?

 

As a way of application, pay close attention to the last two verses, 20 and 21, “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.” It must pain God to see that after offering all the mercy that they did not deserve, still they refuse to repent. Repentance is what God desires.

 

In my Small Group, one of the ladies shared how her sister laughed at her when she tried to share Christ with her. In the end times, God will mobilize natural and supernatural forces to cause suffering to cause repentance through disastrous devastation, demonic destruction, and divine discretion, yet people will refuse to repent.

 

Repent. If you are a believer, repent of every action that nullifies God’s presence in your life, and repent of any behavior that does not glorify Jesus. If you are not a believer, repent and turn to Jesus. Repenting is turning away from sin and turning toward Jesus.

 

Don’t leave today without repenting. If you don't want to forfeit your soul, then don’t reject Jesus. Don’t refuse repentance because the door for repentance will not remain open forever. Repentance is a gift from God but refusing repentance is what the devil wants. Sin is not the issue; the issue is repentance.

 

Study Questions

 

1.       What is the intended goal of the judgments in Revelation 8-9?

 

2.       What happens when the first six trumpets are blasted?

Revelation 8:7, Revelation 8:8-9, Revelation 8:10-11, Revelation 8:12-13, Revelation 9:1-12, Revelation 9:13-19

 

3.       What is the “bottomless pit?” Why would God allow demonic invasion on earth (Revelation 9:1-12)?

 

4.       What does the description in Revelation 9:7b-8 (“their faces were like human faces, their hair like women's hair, and their teeth like lions' teeth” might mean?

 

Deeper Study Question


In Revelation 9:11-12, having a king and mastermind (Abad-don in Hebrew, Apollyon in Greek) means that there is an order within the demonic body. They work like a unit and follow certain guiding principles to expand the kingdom of darkness.


How might you as an individual and as a group be able to beat such a well-organized system working against us, who are the witnesses of Christ on earth?


Do you agree that since we are working against an organized kingdom of darkness, we as believers need to organize as well to combat this by the power of the Spirit? If yes, propose three simple steps that can help us to share the hope of the resurrection this Easter.


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