But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
The terrible plagues described in Revelation are a consequence of human sin. Disobedience to God’s good and beneficial laws brings pain and suffering. But God’s wrath is for a purpose. He punishes out of love—out of a desire to see sinners repent and seek His gracious forgiveness.
This passage comes at the end of a description of the sixth trumpet plague. These six plagues will destroy much of humanity and our world, yet still stubborn and rebellious people will not repent of murder, sorceries (pharmakia, “primarily signified ‘the uses of medicine, drugs, spells,’” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words), sexual immorality and theft.
Most of these sound like modern sins, but what about idolatry?
Actual veneration of statues continues to this day in much of the world. But a different kind of worship of physical things has taken hold of much of the Western world. If you believe in materialism—that the physical world is the only reality—it is natural to be materialistic or preoccupied with things. Many today worship money and the things money can buy. The apostle Paul called covetousness—the inordinate desire for more things—idolatry (Colossians 3:5).
For more about God’s desire for humans to repent, see our section on “Repentance.”