Saturday, 23 January 2021
And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts. Revelation 9:21
In the previous verse, it says that mankind (see the explanation of the meaning of “mankind” in that verse) “did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood.” John continues with that sentiment in this final verse of chapter 9.
In addition to those abominable practices, he says they also “did not repent of their murders.” The word is phonos, and it signifies intentional, unjustified homicide. It was first used in Matthew 15:19 –
“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”
In the Old Testament, there are various words used for killing another, but the term “murder” translates a word first used in the giving of the Ten Commandments. Like the Greek, it is an unauthorized killing of another. However, in the Old Testament it could be either intentional or unintentional. Any unauthorized slaying is defined by the same Hebrew word. And yet, refuge could be given to a person who did not intentionally commit the act. That is defined in Numbers 35. The words of John here in Revelation indicate a willful and intentional act based on the fact that there is no repentance for the deed.
John continues with his words by also noting that the people did not repent of “their sorceries.” The Greek word is pharmakos. It signifies sorcery, but it is based on the idea of “using drugs and ‘religious incantations’ to drug people into living by their illusions – like having magical (supernatural) powers to manipulate God into giving them more temporal possessions” (HELPS Word Studies). One can see the basis for our modern word “pharmacy” in it.
The word is found only in Revelation (three times), along with its associated word pharmakeia, which is found in Galatians 5:20 and once in Revelation 18:23. What is probable is that both basic meanings equally apply here – sorcery and drug use. Both are common in the world today, and the legalization of drugs has become increasingly prevalent, including in Israel.
Next, John says, or their sexual immorality. Sexual intimacy is expected to be between man and woman, and within the bonds of marriage. Any other sexual acts are to be considered immoral. Obviously, this is no longer accepted by society in general where every possible perversion of this precept is considered normal and acceptable. But this is not simply a precept to casually overlook. It is stated to be unacceptable even until the last page of Scripture, along with other perversions of what is right –
“But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.” Revelation 22:15
Sexual immorality, of all types, is now widely promoted in the nation of Israel, showing that they are not only not immune from judgment, but that they can and should expect it for their unholy conduct.
John then finishes the list, and the chapter, by noting “their thefts.” Thieving is repugnant because it is taking what doesn’t belong to someone without care or concern for the work and time of the one being stolen from. The other sins will often take up a great deal of time and expense of the offender, who is only bent on more sin, so the easiest route to feed their debauchery is to steal from others. For these acts, continued judgment and woe is coming on the world, especially upon Israel who bears the name of God. Before Christ returns to this wayward people, they must be purified and made ready.
Life application: Man is created in God’s image and to kill another human is therefore an attack against God’s image-bearer. The Bible only gives one penalty for murder – the ending of the life of the murderer. When a society fails to execute one guilty of this capital crime, it is actually a secondary attack against God. And this is what we see in the liberalizing of our judicial systems around the world. Murderers are given light sentences in court and this only leads to more murder.
Likewise, the other crimes against God that are noted in this verse mar the image of God in the people who do such things. When they continue to occur in society, the society devolves into an unholy congregation of wickedness. Even if the society seems progressive, and projects an attitude of caring and “social justice,” the corruption is clearly evident when compared against the standard by which man will be judged – the Lord Jesus.
He is the embodiment of the law, and He offers His perfect performance under the law to anyone who will receive it by faith. This is what it means to be brought into the New Covenant through Christ’s shed blood. But for those who fail to come to Him, the severe judgment of God will be meted out. This is true for each individual, but it is also true on a national scale for Israel. Only after they are purified will He return to them.
For today, consider your standing before God, do what is right and wise, and call on His hand of extended mercy… call on JESUS!
Lord Jesus, when we read the Bible’s list of things that offend You and that bring about Your wrath, we each know that we have participated in many of those things as well. And yet You extend mercy upon us when we come to You through Jesus. We can only pray that You will call the hearts of the unrepentant back to You, just as You have done for those of us who have called on Jesus. Thank You for Your grace and mercy. Amen.