Revelation 9:21

they did not repent
See commentary on Revelation 9:20.

murders
Murder has always been prevalent upon the earth. In “civilized” societies such as ours, it is often hidden out of direct view and under the control of policies related to population control: abortion, euthanasia, and genetic engineering. During the Tribulation, there will be increased murders as those who refuse to worship the beast are “purged” from society (Dan. Dan. 9:21, Dan. 9:25; Rev. Rev. 13:7+, Rev. 13:15+; Rev. 16:6+; Rev. 17:6+; Rev. 18:24+). Unrepentant murderers will have their place in the second death (Rev. Rev. 21:8+). See commentary on Revelation 2:11 and Revelation 20:14.

sorceries
φαρμάκων [pharmakōn] : “Magic potion, charm,”1 related to φαρμακεία [pharmakeia] , “employment of drugs for any purpose: sorcery, magic, enchantment.”2 The term occurs in the list of the works of the flesh (Gal. Gal. 5:20) and is translated sorcery (witchcraft, KJV). It also describes the sorcery by which Babylon deceived all the nations (Isa. Isa. 47:9, Isa. 47:12; Rev. Rev. 18:23+). Ex. 7:22. Of Babylon, Isa. Isa. 47:9, Isa. 47:12).”3

Sorcery was forbidden by the Law of Moses (Ex. Ex. 22:18; Deu. Deu. 18:10-11) as were all practices which involved communication with the dead such as conjuring spells (Deu. Deu. 18:11), consulting mediums (1S. 1S. 28:3-9), spiritism, or calling up the dead (really the demonic realm). This included all forms of magic (Ex. Ex. 22:18; Lev. Lev. 19:31; Lev. Lev. 20:6, Lev. 20:27; 2Chr. 2Chr. 33:6; Mal. Mal. 3:5). God condemned all of these practices and was indignant that men would seek the dead on behalf of the living” (Isa. Isa. 8:19). Instead, they were to seek the living God.

One need only view modern cartoons on television or observe the recent Harry Potter phenomenon to observe how the foundation continues to be laid for subsequent generations who will have little reservation to participate in these forbidden practices.4

That people are today [1983] being prepared for an irruption of demons, however, seems very probable. The plethora of movies, television programs, and books with demonic themes, along with the latter-day mushroom growth of occult religions and practices, are all surely conditioning men to a widespread belief in Satan and his demons. Furthermore, none of this is driving men to refuge in Christ, as one might at first suppose it would.5

Drugs are used in association with sorcery because they place the practitioner into an altered state of consciousness whereby he or she becomes more open to contact with the demonic realm. The following account of a shaman from the Yanomamo tribe illustrates the connection between drug use and the demonic realm—a connection well-known even among “primitive” peoples:

I recently interviewed a man who had spent most of his life communing with spirit entities. There is no doubt as to his “authenticity.” He was a shaman, a medicine man and chief of his Yanomamo tribe, which resides deep in the Amazonian rain forest of Venezuela. At odds with the lie promoted in anthropological circles that the lives of primitive tribes-people are pure, natural and Eden-like and therefore best kept from outside influence —Chief Shoefoot and his peoples violent, fear-filled existence is documented in a book titled The Spirit of the Rain Forest, written by Mark Ritchie . . .

As a young boy, Shoefoot was singled out as one sensitive to the spirit realm and subsequently initiated into the sorcerers world. Again, a shaman is one who, through knowledge and power obtained from the spirits, heals and guides his people. Although the initial process of enabling him to contact the spirits was brutal, involving days of food and water deprivation and having someone force hallucinogenic drugs into his system by blowing them up his nose, the spirits he met were at first benign and curiously captivating. . . . Shoefoot increased his drug intake in order to go deeper into the spirit world to find more trustworthy and benevolent spirits. That led to even more wicked spirits (Luke Luke 11:26), greater frustration, and intense despair.6 [emphasis added]

Some, who deny the reality of the spiritual realm, believe experiences such as those of this shaman are brought on by natural causes, such as drug use:

I asked Shoefoot through interpreter Mike Dawson, Joe’s son, who grew up among the Yanomamo, how he would answer a skeptic who thought his experiences with the spirits were nothing more than hallucinations brought on by the drugs he took. Shoefoot’s 70-something-year-old eyes sparkled at the question; he enjoys responding to challenges by skeptics, especially when he speaks to university anthropology students. Its ironic that this “primitive” man considers the highly educated anthropologists who study his people naive at best, deceived at worst. He told me of knowing shamans who had many of the same spirits he had had, yet, unlike him, they did not come to know them as a result of taking drugs. Whether the contacts were made with a clear mind or in a drug-induced state, descriptions and details were nearly always identical they all communed with the same spirits.7

During the awful days of the tribulation, the breakdown of law and order will mean that there will be no more restraints on drug use. Furthermore, the fearful judgments on the earth will drive many to drugs as a form of escapism. The merchants of the earth will gladly cooperate because of the great profits involved [Rev. Rev. 18:13+].8

Interestingly, Jezebel of the church of Thyatira apparently taught believers to experience “the depths of Satan” (Rev. Rev. 2:24+), much like her namesake in the OT practiced witchcraft (2K. 2K. 9:23). As we discussed previously, Jezebel at Thyatira can be seen as a type for the church which enters the Great Tribulation (Rev. Rev. 2:22+) whereas those who overcome and reject her teaching will receive “the morning star” (Rev. Rev. 2:28+, which see). Those who practice sorcery will also have their part in the second death (Rev. Rev. 21:8+) and will never enter through the gates of the eternal city (Rev. Rev. 22:15+).

sexual immorality
πορνείας [porneias] , from which we derive pornography. The word is used of prostitution, unchastity, fornication, of every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse.”9

Writing many years ago, Seiss uncannily identified the trend. One only wonders what he might say if he could see our day:

And interlinked with these sorceries, and reacting the one on the other, will also be the general subversion of marriage and its laws, and the deluging of society with the sins of fornication and adultery. The Apostle uses the word “fornication” alone, as embracing all forms of lewdness, but as if to intimate that marriage will then be hardly recognized any more. And already we hear the institution of legal wedlock denounced and condemned as tyrannical, and all rules, but those of affinity and desire, repudiated as unjust. Already, in some circles, we find the doctrines of free love put forth and defended in the name of right, a better religion, and a higher law. And it would be strange indeed, if the revival of the old heathen philosophies and religions, which justified, sanctioned, and sanctified promiscuous concubinage, did not also bring with it a revival of all these old heathen abominations. [emphasis added]10

The term for “sexual immorality” is also used to denote spiritual apostasy, that is, idolatry. “This usage was more easily understandable because some Semitic and Graeco-Roman cults were at times connected with sexual debauchery (cf. Hos Hos. 6:10; Jer Jer. 3:2, Jer. 3:9; 2K. 2K. 9:22).”11 This is the sense in which Babylon is condemned (Rev. Rev. 17:2+, Rev. 17:5+; Rev. 18:3+; Rev. 19:2+). Perhaps at the time of the end, there will also be a resurgence of idolatrous religious practices involving temple prostitution. In our own day, there is blatant disregard for the laws of marriage, even among those who take the name of Christ.

or their thefts
Theft is a broad sin which underwrites many other sins.

The last crime in this category is that of theft. This is “the statement or general and abounding dishonesty, the obliteration of moral distinctions, the disregard of others’ rights, and the practice of fraud, theft, and deceit wherever it is possible.” In our day corruption in high places gives the example to all classes. The only wrong consists in getting caught.12

The conditions and judgments which John describes in this chapter are difficult for us to imagine. Yet if we understand the inspired pages of Biblical history, we recognize the reality of the events attending the Genesis Flood and the tower of Babel. What man has had the capability of doing in the past can easily be repeated in the future. To those who suggest that “modern man” has thrown off such shackles, we answer with just a few words: Chairman Mao, Stallin, Hitler, holocaust. These were not isolated individuals, but entire historical movements supported by countless others. The capability of the same and worse lies before us in the pages of the book of Revelation.

I suppose many of us tend to regard this description as fanciful, as hyperbole, and to doubt that destruction on this unimaginable scale can come to pass. However, we should recognize that such a view uses our experience as its guide, and that Hiroshima’s population would doubtless have felt exactly the same if someone had prophesied the devastation one atomic bomb was about to wreak on them. But their opinion did not alter the fact one iota.13

People are prone to persuade themselves that this world of sense and time is all that we need be concerned about, and hence have no fears of an unseen world of evil, and no decided or active desire for the blessings of an unseen world of good. They live only for earth, not dreaming that this brief life is only the vestibule to worlds of mightier and eternal moment. Their houses are built by the very margin of hell, and yet they rest and feast in them without a feeling of insecurity or of danger. The flames of perdition clamour after them beneath the pavements on which they walk, but they have no sense of fear or serious apprehension. God and angels are ever busy to win their attention to the ways of safety, but they turn a deaf ear and drift along as they list, crying, Peace! Peace! And so will the wicked and the unbelieving go on, until ignored and offended Omnipotence gives over the power to Satan to let loose upon them these horrid beings from the abyss, under whose torment they will wish they never had lived at all, and vainly attempt to make their escape from what they once considered their chief and only good.14

For those who have not yet trusted in Jesus Christ for a way back to God, now is the time to be reconciled of your sin. For each day which passes brings us closer to the fearsome realities described in this chapter: the incredible scenes of hellish torture as demonic hordes are released upon an unsuspecting world. But more frightening than all is the lack of any willingness to repent on the part of those left alive who dwell on the earth! How often must one harden his heart before he reaches the point of no return? Will you still be able to consider God’s offer with an open heart tomorrow after having turned away one more time today?

Notes

1 Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 854.

2 Wesley J. Perschbacher, The New Analytical Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), 426.

3 M. R. Vincent, Vincent’s Word Studies (Escondido, CA: Ephesians Four Group, 2002), Rev. 9:21.

4 In response to those who believe that participating in activities such as reading the Harry Potter books is “harmless creativity” we respond with the simple question: Does it not grieve God that we will not train our children in the things of God, but readily expose them to the influence of magic? To believe otherwise is to demonstrate a lack of appreciation for our own tendencies as well as an ignorance of God’s word. Moreover, God knows that even if today’s train ride may seem “harmless” and not end in disaster, the eventual destination—given our dark hearts—is a guaranteed train wreck! His prohibitions against these practices are numerous and serious because He alone understands the nature of man. If we call ourselves Christians, then why would we participate in activities which are unbiblical and undoubtedly grieve our Lord?

5 Henry Morris, The Revelation Record (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983), Rev. 9:6.

6 T. A. McMahon, “The Spirits of the Lie,” The Berean Call, November 2003. [www.TheBereanCall.org].

7 McMahon continues: “Mike added that we of the sophisticated West have trouble relating to a culture in which spirits, i.e., demons, are a real, everyday part of life. However, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily exclusive to the dense jungles of the Yanomamo. He said that on one autumn trip to the U.S. with Shoefoot, he was shocked as his friend, the former shaman, continually pointed out representations of spirits he had known being featured across America as it celebrated its most financially successful holiday: Halloween. Some time later, Shoefoot was given a sampling of TVs Saturday-morning cartoon characters and power figures. It was more of the same. He was not aware of the worldwide popularity of the Harry Potter books, which introduce children to sorcery and encourage them in the practice of witchcraft. As Mike explained this series of books to him, he was grieved that so many young people were being set up for the suffering and bondage that had tormented his own people.”—T. A. McMahon, “The Spirits of the Lie,” The Berean Call, November 2003. [www.TheBereanCall.org].

8 Morris, The Revelation Record, Rev. 19:21.

9 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 693.

10 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 216.

11 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 693.

12 Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), 178.

13 Monty S. Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John (Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1987), Rev. 9:21.

14 Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 210.

Read Revelation 9:21